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Full text of "Pierre Bourdieu - Distinction. A Social Critique Of The Judgement Of Taste"

A Social Critique 
of the Judgement 

of Taste 

Piene Boundieu 


by Richand Nice 

• f 

o) Distinction 

A Social Critique of t(>< 
Judgement of Taste 

Pierre BourdW 

Translated by Richard Nice 

Harvard University Press 
Cambridge, Massachusetts 

Copyright © 1984 by rhc President 2nd Fellows of Harvard College 

and Routledge & Kcgan Paul Ltd. 

All rights reserved 

Printed in the United States of America 

Originally published in 1979 by Les Editions de Minuit, Paris, as 
La Distinction: Critique ixiale du jugemmt by Pierre Bourdieu. 

The preparation of this volume was assisted by grants from the 
Translations Program of the National Endowment for the 
Humanities, an independent federal agency, and from the 
Cultural Exchange Service of the French Ministry of Foreign 
Affairs. The assistance of the Maison de Sciences de I' Homme is 
also appreciated. 

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data 
Bourdieu, Pierre 

Distinction: a social critique of the judgement 
of taste. 

Translation of: La distinction, critique sociale 
du jugement. 

Includes bibliographical references and index. 

1. France — Civilization — 1945- , 2. Aesthetics, 
French, 3. Social classes— France, I. Title. 
DC33.7.B6513 1984 306 '.0944 84-491 

ISBN 0-674-2 1277-0 (paper) 


Preface to the English-Language Edition xi 
Introduction 1 

Part I ^ Social Critique of the Jtsdgement of Taste 9 

1 The Aristocracy of Culture 11 

The Titles of Cultural Nobility 18 
Cultural Pedigree 63 

Part 11 The Economy of Practices 97 

2 The Social Space and Its Transformations 99 

Class Condition and Social Conditioning 101 
A Three-Dimension al Space 114 
Reconversion Strategies 125 

The Habitus and the Space of Life-Styles 

The Homology between the Spaces 175 
The Universes of Stylistic Possibles 208 


4 The Dynamics of the Fields 226 

The Correspondence between Goods Production 

and Taste Production 230 
Symbolic Struggles 244 

Part m 

Class Tastes ami Life-Styles 257 

5 The Sense of Distinction 260 

The Modes of Appropriation of the Work of Art 267 

The Variants of the Dominant Taste 283 

The Mark of Time 295 

Temporal and Spiritual Powers 315 

6 Cultural Goodwill 318 

Knowledge and Recognition 319 
Education and the Autodidact 328 
Slope and Thrust 331 
The Variants of Petit-Bourgeois Taste 339 
The Declining Petite Bourgeoisie 346 
The Executant Petite Bourgeoisie 351 
The New Petite Bourgeoisie 354 
From Duty to the Fun Ethic 365 

7 The Choice of the Necessary 372 

The Taste for Necessity and the Principle 

ofConformity 374 
The Effects of Domination 386 

8 Culture and Politics 397 

Selective Democracy 399 

Status and Competence 405 

The Right to Speak 41 1 

Personal Opinion 414 

The Modes of Production of Opinion 417 

Dispossession and Misappropriation 426 

Moral Order and Political Order 432 

Class Habitus and Political Opinions 437 

Supply and Demand 440 

The Political Space 451 

The Specific Effect of Trajectory 453 

Political Language 459 

Conclusion: Classes and Classifications 466 

Embodied Social Structures 467 
Knowledge without Concepts 470 
Advantageous Attributions 475 
The Classification Struggle 479 
The Reality of Representation and the Representation 
of Reality 482 

Postscript: Towards a 'Vulgar' Critique of 'Pure' 
Critiques 485 

Disgust at the 'Facile' 486 

The 'Taste of Reflection' and the 'Taste of Sense' 488 

A Denied Social Relationship 491 

Parerga and Paralipomena 494 

The Pleasure of the Text 498 

Appendices 503 

I Some Reflections on the Method 503 

2. Complementary Sources 519 

3. Statistical Data 525 

4 Associations: A Parlour Game 546 

Notes 561 
Credits 605 
Index 607 


1 Class preferences for singers and music 15 

2 Aesthetic disposition, by educational capital 36 

3 Aesthetic disposition, by class and education 37 

4 Knowledge of composers and musical works, by education and class of 
origin 64 

5 Furniture purchases in the dominant class, by education and social 
origin 78 

6 Some indicators of economic capital in different fractions of the 
dominant class, 1966 117 

7 Some indicators of cultural practice in different fractions of the domi- 
nant class, 1966 118 

8 Types of books preferred by different fractions of the dominant class, 
1966 119 

9 Social origin of members of the dominant class, by class fraction, 
1970 121 

10 Rate of employment of women aged 25-34, by education, 1962 and 
1968 134 

11 Changes m morphology and asset structure of the class fractions, 
1954-1975 136 

'2 Changes in morphology and asset structure of the class fractions, 

1954-1968 138 

W Morphological changes within the dominant class, 1954-1975 140 

J 4 Morphological changes within the middle class, 1954-1975 140 

Changes in class morphology and use of educational system, 
•954-1968 158 

nnual household expenditures on food: skilled manual workers, 
'orcmen and clerical workers, 1972 181 

ear 7 spending by teachers, professionals and industrial and 
commercial employers, 1972 184 

lg Annua) household expenditures on food: fractions of the dominant 
class, 1972 188 

19 Variations in entertaining, by class fraction, 1978 198 

20 Variations in value placed by Frenchwomen on body, beauty and 
beauty care, 1976 203 

21 Class variations in sports activities and opinions on sport, 1971 216 

22 Class-fraction variations in moral attitudes 312 

23 Opinions on literary prizes, by class fraction, 1969 320 

24 Chances of entering the dominant class, and fertility rates, by class 
fraction, 1970-71 332 

25 Knowledge and preferences of established and new petite bourgeoisie, 
in Paris and in the provinces 364 

26 Awareness of social factors in educational and social success, by class 
fraction, 1971 388 

27 Views on ways of reducing inequality, by class fraction, 1970 389 

28 'Don't know' responses to political questions, by sex, 1971 403 

29 'Don'r know' responses to questions on teaching, by educational level, 
1970 404 

30 The imposition effect: responses to question on the business world and 
politics, by class fraction, 1971 429 

31 The imposition effect: responses to question on the new socialism, by 
sex, class fraction and party, 1971 430 

32 Views on political order and moral order, by class fraction, 
1959-1972 436 

33 Newspaper reading by men, by educational level, 1975 445 

34 Newspaper reading by men, by age, 1975 445 

35 Newspaper reading by men and women, by class fraction, 1975 446 

36 Percentage of each class fraction reading each daily and weekly 
paper 448 



1 Distribution of preferences for three musical works 17 

2 The aesthetic disposition in the petite bourgeoisie 59 

3 The relationship between inherited cultural capital and educational 
capital 81 

4 Specific competence and talk about art 90 

5 The space of social positions 128 

6 The space of life-styles 129 

7 Displacement of schooling rates of 16- to 18-year-olds, 1954-1975 159 

i ,;nnc of existence, habirus and life-style 171 
Conditions 01 
Thc food space 186 

Ideal homes 248 

v ts of the dominant taste: the space of properties 262 
1 v * ts of the dominant taste: the space of individuals 262 

V ants of the dominant taste: simplified plane diagram of 1st and 3rd 

13 axes of '^ma 266 

14 Films seen 1 271 

Variants of petit-bourgeois taste: the space of properties 340 
Variants of petit-bourgeois raste: the space of individuals 340 
Variants of petit-bourgeois taste: simplified plane diagram of 1st and 3rd 
2XCS of inertia 343 

1 8 Films seen: II 361 

19 Permissiveness and political preference 423 

20 Opinions on foreign policy and political preference 427 

21 The political space 452 

Prepce to t^e Engliisj;- 
Langmge Edition 

I have every reason to fear that this book will strike the reader as 'very 
French'— which 1 know is not always a compliment. 

French it is, of course, by virtue of its empirical object, and it can be 
read as a sort of ethnography of France, which, though I believe it shows 
no ethnocentric indulgence, should help to renew the rather stereotyped 
image of French society that is presented by the American tradition. But 
I believe it is possible to enter into the singularity of an object without 
renouncing the ambition of drawing out universal propositions. It is, no 
doubt, only by using the comparative method, which treats its object as a 
'particular case of the possible', that one can hope to avoid unjustifiably 
universalizing the particular case With the aid of Norbert Elias's analy- 
ses, I do indeed emphasize the particularity of the French tradition, 
namely, the persistence, through different epochs and political regimes, 
of the aristocratic model of 'court society', personified by a Parisian haute 
bourgemie which, combining all forms of prestige and all the titles of eco- 
nomic and cultural nobility, has no counterpart elsewhere, at least for the 
arrogance of its cultural judgements. 1 It would, however, be a mistake to 
regard all that is said here about the social uses of art and culture as a 
collection of Parisian curiosities and frivolities— and not only because, as 
fcrving Goffman once pointed out to me, the Parisian version of the art 
° ' 1V! ng has never ceased to exert a sort of fascination in the 'Anglo- 

° n ' world, even beyond the circle of snobs and socialites, thereby at- 
taining a kind of universality. 

fhe model of the relationships between the universe of economic and 
soc ia ! conditions and the universe of life-styles which is put forward here, 

based on an endeavour to rethink Max Weber's opposition between class] 
and Stand, seems to me to be valid beyond the particular French case and j 
no doubt, for every stratified society, even if the system of distinctive fea-j 
tures which express or reveal economic and social differences (themselves 
variable in scale and structure) varies considerably from one period, and 
one society, to another. For example, the slightest familiarity with the' 
structural mode of thought tells one that the use of French words, proper 
names, preferably noble, or common nouns— -Insritut de Beaute, Comv| 
seur, Haute couture, etc.— -performs the same function for shops on Fifth; 
Avenue or Madison Avenue as English words like hairdresser, shirtmakef. 
or interior designer on shop fronts in the rue du Faubourg Saint-Hon.; 
ore. 3 But, more broadly, the sense of distance, even strangeness, which 
scientific objectirkatton itself produces and which is intensified by the 
differences in historical traditions, giving different contents to different) 
realizations of the same structures, must not prevent the reader from re- 
flecting onto his own society, onto his own position within it, in short, 
onto himself, the analyses he is offered. 

That is why, though I am aware of the dangers of a facile search for 
partial equivalences which cannot stand in for a methodical comparison 
between systems, I shall take the risk of suggesting, within the limits of; 
my knowledge of American society and culture, some guidelines for a 
reading that seeks to identify, behind the specific institution of a partiaH 
lar society, the structural invariant and, by the same token, the equivalent 1 
institution in another social universe. At the level of the 'international* I 
pole of the dominant class the problem scarcely arises, since the cultural! 
products are (relatively) international. One could replace Les Temps \ 
Modernes by Partisan Review, France-Musique by educational television ,; 
(Channel 13, WQXR, WGBH etc.) and perhaps ultra-leftism by sixties jj 
'camp', while the New York Review of Books would (alas) represent an'j 
unlikely combination of the weekly Nouvel Observateur, the review Cri- j 
tique and, especially in its successive enthusiasms, the journal Tel Quel As j 
regards bourgeois taste, the American professionals, executives and man- ■ 
agers might ask of the film, book, art and music critics of the New York 
Times or magazines like Time and Newsweek the same balanced, subtly di- 
versified judgements which their French opposite numbers expect from 
Le Monde or Le Figaro or weeklies like L Express or Le Point. The titles 
and authors favoured by the best-seller readership will vary from country 
to country, but in each case there will be a preponderance of the life- 
stories and memoirs of exemplary heroes of bourgeois success or 'non-fic- 
tion novels'. The undemanding entertainment which Parisians expect 
from boulevard theatre, New Yorkers will seek in Broadway musicals. 

But I believe I have said enough to encourage my readers to join in the 
game, at least so as to correct my mistakes and perhaps to pursue the 
search for equivalents, which would have to be sought in song and cin- 
ema (Is Brigitre Bardot like Marilyn Monroe? Is Jean Gabin the French 


\yy a yne, or Humphrey Bogart or Spencer Tracy?) — and also in 

} inreri° r decoration, sport and cooking. For it is certain that on 

u ide of the Channel or the Atlantic some things are compatible, 

eaC 1 4W not; and the preferences of a class or class fraction constitute 


ot nt systems. To support this hypothesis, which all the empirical 
I es confirm, I can invoke Edgar Allan Poe, who spells out the link 

wren the most everyday choices, in decoration, for example, 
ices in the 'fine arts 1 , seeing in the ordinary arrangement of the 

althy apartments of his country the expression of a way of life and 

pht: *We speak of the keeping of a room as we would of the keeping 

r picture— for both the picture and the room are amenable to those 

deviating principles which regulate all varieties of art; and very nearly 
the same laws by which we decide on the higher merits of a painting, 
ufnee for decision on the adjustment of a chamber.'" 

In its form, too, this book is 'very French' This will be understood if 
the reader accepts that, as 1 try to show, the mode of expression character- 
istic of a cultural production always depends on the laws of the market in 
which it is offered. 7 Although the book transgresses one of the funda- 
mental taboos of the intellectual world, in relating intellectual products 
and producers to their social conditions of existence — and also, no doubt, 
because it does so— it cannot entirely ignore or defy the laws of academic 
or intellectual propriety which condemn as barbarous any attempt to 
treat culture, that present incarnation of the sacred, as an object of sci- 
ence. That is one of the reasons — along with the costs of book produc- 
tion—why I have only very partially reproduced the survey material and 
the statistical data used, and have not always given the exposition of the 
method as much prominence as the rhetoric of scientificity would de- 
mand. (As in the French edition, some passages of the text, containing 
detailed statistical material, illustrative examples or discussion of ancillary 
issues, are printed in small type so that the reader who seeks an overview 
of the main argument may pass over them on a first reading.) Likewise, 
the style of the book, whose long, complex sentences may offend — con- 
structed as they are with a view to reconstituting the complexity of the 
social world in a language capable of holding together the most divetse 
things while setting them in rigorous perspective — stems partly from the 
endeavour to mobilize all the resources of the traditional modes of ex- 
pression, literary, philosophical or scientific, so as to say things that were 
PC facto or de jure excluded from them, and to prevent the reading from 
'PPing back into the simplicities of the smart essay or the political po- 



Finally, i rca ij 2e how much the specificity of the French intellectual 

may have contributed to the conception of this book, in particular 

., P^aps immoderate ambition of giving a scientific answer to the 

S uc srions of Kant's critique of judgement, by seeking in the struc- 

re of the social classes the basis of the systems of classification which 

structure perception of the social world and designate the objects of aes- 
thetic enjoyment. But in an age when the effects of a premature division] 
of labour separate anthropology from sociology, and, within the latter,' 
the sociology of knowledge from the sociology of culture, not to menv 
tion the sociology of food or sport, it is perhaps the advantage of a world; 
still haunted by the ultimate and total questionings of the prophetic in> 
tellectual that one is led to refuse the self-induced myopia which makes it 
impossible to observe and understand everything that human practices 
reveal only when they are seen in their mutual relationships, that is, as a 
totality 9 

At all events, there is nothing more universal than the project of objec-' 
tifying the mental structures associated with the particularity of a social, 
structure, Because it presupposes an epistemological break which is also a 
social break, a sort of estrangement from the familiar, domestic, native 
world, the critique (in the Kantian sense) of culture invites each reader, 
through the 'making strange' beloved of the Russian formalists, to re' 
produce on his or her own behalf the critical break of which it is the 
product. For this reason it is perhaps the only rational basis for a truly' 
universal culture. 



You said it, my good knight! There ought to be laws to 
protect the body of acquired knowledge. 

Take one of our good pupils, for example: modest and 
diligent, from his earliest grammar classes he's kept a lit- 
tle norebook full of phrases. 

After hanging on the lips of his teachers for twenty 
years, he's managed to build up an intellectual stock in 
trade; doesn't it belong to him as if it were a house, or 

Paul Claudel, Le Soulier de satin, Day III, Scene ii 

There is an economy of cultural goods, but it has a specific logic. Sociol- 
ogy endeavours to establish the conditions in which the consumers of 
cultural goods, and their taste for them, are produced, and at the same 
time to describe the different ways of appropriating such of these objects 
as are regarded at a particular moment as works of art, and the social 
conditions of the constitution of the mode of appropriation that is con- 
sidered legitimate. But one cannot fully understand cultural practices 
unless 'culture', in the restricted, normative sense of ordinary usage, is 
brought back into 'culture' in the anthropological sense, and the elabo- 
rated taste for the most refined objects is reconnected with the elemen- 
tary taste for the flavours of food. 

Whereas the ideology of charisma regards taste in legitimate culture as 
a gift of nature, scientific observation shows that cultural needs are the 
product of upbringing and education: surveys establish that all cultural 
practices (museum visits, concert-going, reading etc.), and preferences in 
literature, painting or music, are closely linked to educational level 
(measured by qualifications or length of schooling) and secondarily to 
social origin. The relative weight of home background and of formal 
education (the effectiveness and duration of which are closely dependent 
on social origin) varies according to the extent to which the different 
cultural practices are recognized and taught by the educational system, 
and the influence of social origin is strongest- — other things being 
equal — in 'extra-curricular' and avant-garde culture. To the socially recog- 
nized hierarchy of the arts, and within each of them, of genres, schools or 
(periods, corresponds a social hierarchy of the consumers. This predisposes 

2 / Introductbn 

tastes to function as markers of 'class'. The manner in which culture has 
been acquired lives on in the manner of using it: the importance attached 
to manners can be understood once it is seen that it is these imponder- 
ables of practice which distinguish the different— and ranked — -modes of 
culture acquisition, early or late, domestic or scholastic, and the classes of 
individuals which they characterize (such as 'pedants' and mondaim). 
Culture also has its titles of nobility — awarded by the educational 
system — and its pedigrees, measured by seniority in admission to the 

The definition of cultural nobility is the stake in a struggle which has 
gone on unceasingly, from the seventeenth century to the present day, 
between groups differing in their ideas of culture and of the legitimate 
relation to culture and to works of art, and therefore differing in the 
conditions of acquisition of which these dispositions are the product. 2 
Even in the classroom, the dominant definition of the legitimate way of 
appropriating culture and works of art favours those who have had early 
access to legitimate culture, in a cultured household, outside of scholastic 
disciplines, since even within the educational system it devalues scholarly 
knowledge and interpretation as 'scholastic' or even 'pedantic' in favour 
of direct experience and simple delight. 

The logic of whar is sometimes called, in typically 'pedantic' language, 
the 'reading' of a work of art, offers an objective basis for this opposition. 
Consumption is, in this case, a stage in a process of communication, that 
is, an act of deciphering, decoding, which presupposes practical or ex- 
plicit mastery of a cipher or code. In a sense, one can say that the capacity 
to see (wir) is a function of the knowledge (savoir), or concepts, that is, 
the words, that are available to name visible things, and which are, as it 
were, programmes for perception. A work of art has meaning and interest 
only for someone who possesses the cultural competence, that is, the 
code, into which it is encoded. The conscious or unconscious implemen- 
tation of explicit or implicit schemes of perception and appreciation 
which constitutes pictorial or musical culture is the hidden condition for 
recognizing the styles characteristic of a period, a school or an author, 
and, more generally, for the familiarity with the internal logic of works 
that aesthetic enjoyment presupposes. A beholder who lacks the specific 
code feels lost in a chaos of sounds and rhythms, colours and lines, with- 
out rhyme or reason. Not having learnt to adopt the adequate disposi- 
tion, he stops short at what Erwin Panofsky calls the 'sensible properties', 
perceiving a skin as downy or lace-work as delicate, or at the emotional 
resonances aroused by these properties, referring to 'austere' colours or a 
'joyful* melody. He cannot move from the 'primary stratum of the 
meaning we can grasp on the basis of our ordinary experience' to the 
'stratum of secondary meanings', i.e., the 'level of the meaning of what is 
signified', unless he possesses the concepts which go beyond the sensible 
properties and which identify the specifically stylistic properties of the 

Introduction / 3 

work. 3 Thus the encounter with a work of art is not Move at first sight' as 
is generally supposed, and the act of empathy, Emfiihlung, which is the 
art-lover's pleasure, presupposes an act of cognition, a decoding opera- 
tion, which implies the implementation of a cognitive acquirement, a 
cultural code. 

This typically intellectualist theory of artistic perception directly con- 
tradicts the experience of the art-lovers closest to the legitimate defini- 
tion; acquisition of legitimate culture by insensible familiarization within 
the family circle tends to favour an enchanted experience of culture 
which implies forgetting the acquisition.' The 'eye' is a product of his- 
tory reproduced by education. This is true of the mode of artistic percep- 
tion now accepted as legitimate, that is, the aesthetic disposition, the 
capacity to consider in and for themselves, as form rather than function, 
not only the works designated for such apprehension, i.e., legitimate 
works of art, but everything in the world, including cultural objects 
which are not yet consecrated—- such as, at one time, primitive arts, or, 
nowadays, popular photography or kitsch — and natural objects. The 
'pure' gaze is a historical invention linked to the emergence of an auton- 
omous field of artistic production, that is, a field capable of imposing its 
own norms on both the production and the consumption of its prod- 
ucts. An art which, like all Post-Impressionist painting, is the product of 
an artistic intention which asserts the primacy of the mode of representa- 
tion over the object of representation demands categorically an attention 
to form which previous art only demanded conditionally. 

The pure intention of the artist is that of a producer who aims to be 
autonomous, that is, entirely the master of his produce, who tends to re- 
ject not only the 'programmes' imposed a priori by scholars and scribes, 
but also — following the old hierarchy of doing and saying — the interpre- 
tations superimposed a posteriori on his work. The production of an 
'open work', intrinsically and deliberately polysemic, can thus be under- 
stood as the final stage in the conquest of artistic autonomy by poets and, 
following in their footsteps, by painters, who had long been reliant on 
writers and their work of 'showing' and 'illustrating'. To assert the au- 
tonomy of production is to give primacy to that of which the artist is 
master, i.e., form, manner, style, rather than the 'subject', the external ref- 
erent, which involves subordination to functions — even if only the most 
elementary one, that of representing, signifying, saying something. It 
also means a refusal to recognize any necessity other than that inscribed 
in the specific tradition of the artistic discipline in question: the shift 
from an art which imitates nature to an art which imitates art, deriving 
from its own history the exclusive source of its experiments and even of 
its breaks with tradition. An art which ever increasingly contains refer- 
ence to its own history demands to be perceived historically; it asks to be 
referred not to an external referent, the represented or designated 'reality', 
but to the universe of past and present works of art. Like artistic produc- 

4 / Introduction 

tion, in that it is generated in a field, aesthetic perception is necessarily 
historical, inasmuch as it is differential, relational, attentive to the devia- 
tions (ecarts) which make styles. Like the so-called naive painter who, 
operating outside the field and its specific traditions, remains external to 
the history of the art, the 'naive' spectator cannot attain a specific grasp 
of works of art which only have meaning — or value — in relation to the 
specific history of an artistic tradition. The aesthetic disposition de- 
manded by the products of a highly autonomous field of production is 
inseparable from a specific cultural competence. This historical culture 
functions as a principle of pertinence which enables one to identify, 
among the elements offered to the gaze, all the distinctive features and 
only these, by referring them, consciously or unconsciously, to the uni- 
verse of possible alternatives. This mastery is, for the most part, acquired 
simply by contact with works of art— that is, through an implicit learn- 
ing analogous to that which makes it possible to recognize familiar faces 
without explicit rules or criteria — and it generally remains at a practical 
level; it is what makes it possible to identify styles, i.e., modes of expres- 
sion characteristic of a period, a civilization or a school, without having 
to distinguish clearly, or state explicitly, the features which constitute 
their originality. Everything seems to suggest that even among profes- 
sional valuers, the criteria which define the stylistic properties of the 'typ- 
ical works' on which all their judgements are based usually remain 

The pure gaze implies a break with the ordinary attitude towards the 
world, which, given the conditions in which it is performed, is also a so- 
cial separation. Ortega y Gasset can be believed when he attributes to 
modern art a systematic refusal of all that is 'human', i.e., generic, com- 
mon — as opposed to distinctive, or distinguished — namely, the passions, 
emotions and feelings which 'ordinary' people invest in their 'ordinary' 
lives. It is as if the 'popular aesthetic' (the quotation marks are there to 
indicate that this is an aesthetic 'in itself not 'for itself) were based on 
the affirmation of the continuity between art and life, which implies the 
subordination of form to function. This is seen clearly in the case of the 
novel and especially the theatre, where the working-class audience refuses 
any sort of formal experimentation and all the effects which, by intro- 
ducing a distance from the accepted conventions (as regards scenery, plot 
etc.), tend to distance the spectator, preventing him from getting in- 
volved and fully identifying with the characters (I am thinking of 
Brechtian 'alienation' or the disruption of plot in the nouveau roman). In 
contrast to the detachment and disinterestedness which aesthetic theory 
regards as the only way of recognizing the work of art for what it is, i.e., 
autonomous, selbstdndig, the 'popular aesthetic' ignores or refuses the re- 
fusal of 'facile' involvement and 'vulgar' enjoyment, a refusal which is 
the basis of the taste for formal experiment. And popular judgements of 
paintings or photographs spring from an 'aesthetic' (in fact it is an 

Introduction / :5 

ethos) which is the exact opposite of the Kantian aesthetic. Whereas, in 
order to grasp the specificity of the aesthetic judgement, Kant strove to 
distinguish that which pleases from that which gratifies and, more gen- 
erally, to distinguish disinterestedness, the sole guarantor of the specifi- 
cally aesthetic quality of contemplation, from the interest of reason 
which defines the Good, working-class people expect every image to ex- 
plicitly perform a function, if only that of a sign, and their judgements 
make reference, often explicitly, to the norms of morality or agreeable- 
ness. Whether rejecting or praising, their appreciation always has an eth- 
ical basis. 

Popular taste applies the schemes of the ethos, which pertain in the or- 
dinary circumstances of life, to legitimate works of art, and so performs a 
systematic reduction of the jfhings of art to the things of life. The very 
seriousness (or naivety) which this taste invests in fictions and represen- 
tations demonstrates a contrario that pure taste performs a suspension of 
'naive' involvement which is one dimension of a 'quasi-ludic' relation- 
ship with the necessities of the world. Intellectuals could be said to be- 
lieve in the representation — literature, theatre, painting — more than in 
the things represented, whereas the people chiefly expect representations 
and the conventions which govern them to allow them to believe 'na- 
ively' in the things represented. The pure aesthetic is rooted in an ethic, 
or rather, an ethos of elective distance from the necessities of the natural 
and social world, which may take the form of moral agnosticism (visible 
when ethical transgression becomes an artistic parti pris ) or of an aesthet- 
icism which presents the aesthetic disposition as a universally valid prin- 
ciple and takes the bourgeois denial of the social world to its limit. The 
detachment of the pure gaze cannot be dissociated from a general dispo- 
sition towards the world which is the paradoxical product of condition- 
ing by negative economic necessities — a life of ease — that tends to induce 
an active distance from necessity. 

Although art obviously offers the greatest scope tQ the aesthetic dispo- 
sition, there is no area of practice in which the aim of purifying, refining 
and sublimating primary needs and impulses cannot assert itself, no area 
in which the stylization of life, that is, the primacy of forms over func- 
tion, of manner over matter, does not produce the same effects. And 
nothing is more distinctive, more distinguished, than the capacity to 
confer aesthetic status on objects that are banal or even 'common' (be- 
cause the 'common' people make them their own, especially for aesthetic 
purposes), or the ability to apply the principles of a 'pure' aesthetic to the 
most everyday choices of everyday life, e.g., in cooking, clothing or deco- 
ration, completely reversing the popular disposition which annexes aes- 
thetics to ethics. 

In fact, through the economic and social conditions which they pre- 
suppose, the different ways of relating to realities and fictions, of believ- 
ing in fictions and the realities they simulate, with more or less distance 

6 / Introduction 

and detachment, are very closely linked to the different possible positions 
in social space and, consequently, bound up with the systems of disposi- 
tions (habitus) characteristic of the different classes and class fractions. 
Taste classifies, and it classifies the classifier. Social subjects, classified by 
their classifications, distinguish themselves by the distinctions they make, 
between the beautiful and the ugly, the distinguished and the vulgar, in 
which their position in the objective classifications is expressed or be- 
trayed. And statistical analysis does indeed show that oppositions similar 
in structure to those found in cultural practices also appear in eating 
habits. The antithesis between quantity and quality, substance and form, 
corresponds to the opposition — linked to different distances from neces- 
sity — between the taste of necessity, which favours the most 'filling' and 
most economical foods, and the taste of liberty — or luxury — which shifts 
the emphasis to the manner (of presenting, serving, eating etc.) and 
tends to use stylized forms to deny function. 

The science of taste and of cultural consumption begins with a trans- 
gression that is in no way aesthetic: it has to abolish the sacred frontier 
which makes legitimate culture a separate universe, in order to discover 
the intelligible relations which unite apparently incommensurable 
'choices', such as preferences in music and food, painting and sport, liter- 
ature and hairstyle. This barbarous reintegration of aesthetic consump- 
tion into the world of ordinary consumption abolishes the opposition, 
which has been the basis of high aesthetics since Kant, between the 'taste 
of sense' and the 'taste of reflection', arid between facile pleasure, pleasure 
reduced to a pleasure of the senses, and pure pleasure, pleasure purified of 
pleasure, which is predisposed to become a symbol of moral excellence 
and a measure of the capacity for sublimation which defines the truly 
human man. The culture which results from this magical division is sa- 
cred. Cultural consecration docs indeed confer on the objects, persons 
and situations it touches, a sort of ontological promotion akin to a tran- 
substantiation. Proof enough of this is found in the two following quo- 
tations, which might almost have been written for the delight of the 

'What struck me most is this: nothing could be obscene on the stage 
of our premier theatre, and the ballerinas of the Opera, even as naked 
dancers, sylphs, sprites or Bacchae, retain an inviolable purity.' 7 

'There are obscene postures: the stimulated intercourse which offends 
the eye. Clearly, it is impossible to approve, although the interpolation of 
such gestures in dance routines does give them a symbolic and aesthetic 
quality which is absent from the intimate scenes the cinema daily flaunts 
before its spectators' eyes ... As for the nude scene, what can one say, 
except that it is brief and theatrically not very effective? I will not say it is 
chaste or innocent, for nothing commercial can be so described. Let us 
say it is not shocking, and that the chief objection is that it serves as a 
box-office gimmick. ... In Hair, the nakedness fails to be symbolic.' 8 

Introduction / 7 

The denial of lower, coarse, vulgar, venal, servile — in a word, natu- 
ral — enjoyment, which constitutes the sacred sphere of culture, implies 
an affirmation of the superiority of those who can be satisfied with the 
sublimated, refined, disinterested, gratuitous, distinguished pleasures for-, 
ever closed to the profane. That is why art and cultural consumption are 
predisposed, consciously and deliberately or not, to fulfil a social function 
of legitimating social differences. 

T^e Aristocracy 
of Culture 

Sociology is rarely more akin to social psychoanalysis than when it con- 
fronts an object like taste, one of the most vital stakes in the struggles 
fought in the field of the dominant class and the field of cultural produc- 
tion. This is not only because the judgement of taste is the supreme 
manifestation of the discernment which, by reconciling reason and sensi- 
bility, the pedant who understands without feeling and the mondain 
who enjoys without understanding, defines the accomplished individual. 
Nor is it solely because every rule of propriety designates in advance the 
project of defining this indefinable essence as a clear manifestation of 
philistinism — whether it be the academic propriety which, from Alois 
Riegl and Heinrich Wolfflin to Elie Faure and Henri Focillon, and from 
the most scholastic commentators on the classics to the avant-garde 
semiologist, insists on a formalist reading of the work of art; or the up- 
perclass propriety which treats taste as one of the surest signs of true no- 
bility and cannot conceive of referring taste to anything other than itself. 
Here the sociologist finds himself in the area par excellence of the de- 
nial of the social. It is not sufficient to overcome the initial self-evident 
appearances, in other words, to relate taste, the uncreated source of all 
'creation', to the social conditions of which it is the product, knowing 
full well that the very same people who strive to repress the clear relation 
between taste and education, between culture as the state of that which is 
cultivated and culture as the process of cultivating, will be amazed that 
anyone should expend so much effort in scientifically proving that self- 
evident fact. He must also question that relationship, which only appears 
to be self-explanatory, and unravel the paradox whereby the relationship 

12 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

with educational capital is just as strong in areas which the educational 
system does not teach. And he must do this without ever being able to 
appeal unconditionally to the positivistic arbitration of what are called 
facts. Hidden behind the statistical relationships between educational 
capital or social origin and this or that type of knowledge or way of ap- 
plying it, there are relationships between groups maintaining different, 
and even antagonistic, relations to culture, depending on the conditions 
in which they acquired their cultural capital and the markets in which 
they can derive most profit from it. But we have not yet finished with the 
self-evident. The question itself has to- be questioned — in other words, 
the relation to culture which it tacitly privileges — in order to establish 
whether a change in the content and form of the question would not be 
sufficient to transform the relationships observed. There is no way out of 
the game of culture; and one's only chance of objectifying the true na- 
ture of the game is to objectify as fully as possible the very operations 
which one is obliged to use in order to achieve that objectification. De te 
fabula narratur. The reminder is meant for the reader as well as the soci- 
ologist. Paradoxically, the games of culture are protected against objecti- 
fication by all the partial objectifications which the actors involved in the 
game perform on each other: scholarly critics cannot grasp the objective 
reality of society aesthetes without abandoning their grasp of the true 
nature of their own activity; and the same is true of their opponents. The 
same law of mutual lucidity and reflexive blindness governs the antago- 
nism between 'intellectuals' and 'bourgeois' (or their spokesmen in the 
field of production). And even when bearing in mind the function 
which legitimate culture performs in class relations, one is still liable to 
be led into accepting one or the other of the self-interested representa- 
tions of culture which 'intellectuals' and 'bourgeois' endlessly fling at 
each other. Up to now the sociology of the production and producers of 
culture has never escaped from the play of opposing images, in which 
'right-wing intellectuals' and 'left-wing intellectuals' (as the current tax- 
onomy puts it) subject their opponents and their strategies to an objecti- 
vist reduction which vested interests make that much easier. The 
objectification is always bound to remain partial, and therefore false, so 
long as it fails to include the point of view from which it speaks and so 
fails to construct the game as a whole. Only at the level of the field of 
positions is it possible to grasp both the generic interests associated with 
the fact of taking part in the game and the specific interests attached to 
the different positions, and, through this, the form and content of the 
self positionings through which these interests are expressed. Despite the 
aura of objectivity they like to assume, neither the 'sociology of the in- 
tellectuals', which is traditionally the business of 'right-wing intellec- 
tuals', nor the critique of 'right-wing thought', the traditional speciality 
of 'left-wing intellectuals', is anything more than a series of symbolic ag 
gressions which take on additional force when they dress themselves up 
in the impeccable neutrality of science. They tacitly agree in leaving hid- 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 13 

den what is essential, namely the structure of objective positions which is 
the source, inter alia, of the view which the occupants of each position 
can have of the occupants of the other positions and which determines 
the specific form and force of each group's propensity to present and re- 
ceive a group's partial truth as if it were a full account of the objective 
relations between the groups. 

The analyses presented in this book are based on a survey by question- 
naire, carried out in 1963 and 1967-68, on a sample of 1,217 people. (Ap- 
pendix 1 gives full information concerning the composition of the 
sample, the questionnaire, and the main procedures used to analyze it. 
Appendix 3 contains the statistical data drawn from the survey, as well as 
data from other sources.) The survey sought to determine how the culti- 
vated disposition and cultural competence that are revealed in the nature 
of the cultural goods consumed, and in the way they are consumed, vary 
according to the category of agents and the area to which they applied, 
from the most legitimate areas such as painting or music to the most 
'personal' ones such as clothing, furniture or cookery, and, within the 
legitimate domains, according to the markets — 'academic' and 'non- 
academic' — in which they may be placed. Two basic facts were thus es- 
tablished: on the one hand, the very close relationship linking cultural 
practices (or the corresponding opinions) to educational capital (mea- 
sured by qualifications) and, secondarily, to social origin (measured by 
father's occupation); and, on the other hand, the fact that, at equivalent 
levels of educational capital, the weight of social origin in the practice- 
and preference-explaining system increases as one moves away from the 
most legitimate areas of culture. 

The more the competences measured are recognized by the school sys- 
tem, and the more 'academic' the techniques used to measure them, the 
stronger is the relation between, performance and educational qualifica- 
tion. The latter, as a more or less adequate indicator of the number of 
years of scholastic inculcation, guarantees cultural capital more or less 
completely, depending on whether it is inherited from the family or ac- 
quired at school, and so it is an unequally adequate indicator of this capi- 
tal. The strongest correlation between performance and educational 
capital qua cultural capital recognized and guaranteed by the educational 
system (which is very unequally responsible for its acquisition) is ob- 
served when, with the question on the composers of a series of musical 
works, the survey takes the form of a very 'scholastic' exercise on knowl- 
edge very close to that taught by the educational system and strongly rec- 
ognized in the academic market. 

The interviewer read out a list of sixteen musical works and asked the re- 
spondent to name the composer of each. Sixty-seven percent of those with 
only a CEP or a CAP could not identify more than two composers (out of 

14 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

sixteen works), compared to 45 percent of those with a BEPC, 19 percent 
of those with the baccalaureat, 17 percent of those who had gone to a tech- 
nical college {petite ecole) or started higher education and only 7 percent of 
those having a qualification equal or superior ro a licence. Whereas none of 
the manual or clerical workers questioned was capable of naming twelve or 
more of the composers of the sixteen works, 52 percent of the 'artistic pro- 
ducers' and the teachers (and 78 percent of the teachers in higher educa- 
tion) achieved this score. 

The rate of non-response to the question on favourite painters or pieces 
of music is also closely correlated with level of education, with a strong op- 
position between the dominant class on the one hand and the working 
classes, craftsmen and small tradesmen on the other. (However, since in 
this case whether or not people answered the question doubtless depended 
as much on their dispositions as on their pure competence, the cultural pre- 
tensions of the new petite bourgeoisie — junior commercial executives, the 
medical and social services, secretaries, and the various cultural interme- 
diaries (see Chapter 6) — found an outlet here.) Similarly, listening to the 
most 'highbrow' radio stations, France-Musique and France-Culture, and to 
musical or cultural broadcasts, owning a record-player, listening to records 
(without specifying the type, which minimizes the differences), visiting art- 
galleries, and knowledge of painting — features which are strongly correlated 
with one another — obey the same logic and, being strongly linked to educa- 
tional capital, set the various classes and class fractions in a clear hierarchy 
(with a reverse distribution for listening to variety programmes). In the 
case of activities like the visual arts, or playing a musical instrument, which 
presupposes a cultural capital generally acquired outside the educational sys- 
tem and (relatively) independent of the level of academic certification, the 
correlation with social class, which is again strong, is established through 
social trajectory (which explains the special position of the new petite bour- 

The closer one moves towards the most legitimate areas, such as music or 
painting, and, within these areas, which can be set in a hierarchy according 
to their modal degree of legitimacy, towards certain genres or certain 
works, the more the differences in educational capital are associated with 
major differences (produced in accordance with the same principles) be- 
tween genres, such as opera and operetta, or quartets and symphonies, be- 
tween periods, such as contemporary and classical, between composers and 
between works. Thus, among works of music, the Well-Tempered Clavier and 
the Concerto for the Left Hand (which, as will become apparent, are distin- 
guished by the modes of acquisition and consumption which they presup- 
pose), are opposed to the Strauss waltzes and the Sabre Dance, pieces which 
are devalued either by belonging ro a lower genre ('light music') or by 
their popularization (since the dialectic of distinction and pretension desig- 
nates as devalued 'middle-brow' art those legitimate works which become 
'popularized'), 3 just as, in the world of song, Georges Brassens and Leo 
Ferre are opposed to Georges Guetary and Petula Clark, these differ- 
ences corresponding in each case to differences in educational capital (see 
table 1 ) . 

In fact, the weight of the secondary factors— -composition of capital, vol- 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 1 5 



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16 / A Soda/ Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

ume of inherited cultural capital (or social Trajectory), age, place of resi- 
dence — varies with the works. Thus, as one moves towards the works that 
axe least legitimate Cat the moment in question), factors such as age be- 
come increasingly important; in the case of Rhapsody m Blue or me Hungar- 
ian Rhapsody, there is a closer correlation with age than with education, 
father's occupational category, sex or place of residence 

Thus, of all the objects offered for consumers' choice, there are none 
more classifying than legitimate works of art, which, while distinctive in 
general, enable the production of distinctions ad infinitum by playing on 
divisions and subdivisions into genres, periods, styles, authors etc. 
Within the universe of particular tastes which can be recreated by suc- 
cessive divisions^ it is thus possible, still keeping to the major opposi- 
tions, to distinguish rhree zones of taste which roughly correspond to 
educational levels and social classes: (1) Legitimate taste, i.e., the taste for 
legitimate works, here represented by the Well-Tempered Clavier {see fig- 
ure 1 , histogram 1 ), the Art of Fugue or the Concerto for the Left Hand, or, 
in painting, Breughel or Goya, which the most self-assured aesthetes can 
combine with the most legitimate of the arts that are still in the process 
of legitimation — cinema, jazz or even song (here, for example, Leo Ferrc, 
Jacques Douai) — increases with educational level and is highest in those 
fractions of the dominant class that are richest in educational capital. (2) 
' Middle-brow' taite, which brings together the minor works of the major 
arts, in this case Rhapsody in Blue (histogram 2), the Hungarian Rhapsody, 
or in painting, Utritlo, Buffet or even Renoir, and the major works of the 
minor arts,, such as Jacques Brcl and Gilbert Becaud in the art of song, is 
more common in the middle classes (classes mcyennes) than in the work- 
ing classes (classes populaires ) or in the 'intellectual' fractions of the domi- 
nant class. (3) Finally, 'popular* taste, represented here by the choice of 
works of so-called light' music or classical music devalued by populariza- 
tion, such as the Blue Danube (histogram 3), La Traviata or L' Awiisterme, 
and especially songs totally devoid of artistic ambition or pretension such 
as those of Luis Mariano, Guctary or Petula Clark, is most frequent 
among the working classes and varies in inverse ratio to educational capi- 
ta! (which explains why ir is slightly more common among industrial 
and commercial employers or even senior executives than among primary 
teachers and cultural intermediaries). 

The rhree profiles presented in figure l are perfectly typical of those that 
are found when one draws a graph of the distribution of a whole set of 
choices characteristic of different class fractions (arranged in a hierarchy, 
within each class, according to educational capical). The first one (the Well- 
Tempered Clavier) reappears in the case of all the authors or works named 
above, and also for such choices in the survey questionnaire (see appendix 
I) as 'reading philosophical essays 1 and 'visiting museums' etc.; the second 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 1 7 
Figure I Distribution of preferences for three musical works by class fraction. 


i Will-Tempered Clavier 

M ual workers 

limnetic servants 

(Ulismcn, shopkeepers 

(1m H ;il and commercial employees 

IUiiioi administrative executives 
Hi id il (.ummercial executives, secretaries 
(Ft Imicians 

(Unlit ul-social services 
ftiliit.try teachers 

lUlliitul intermediaries, art craftsmen 
lltiliMtial and commercial employers 
|illl>ln -sector executives 
Wiv-uc- sector executives, engineers 
ipimulary teachers 

IH(jlx i -education teachers, an producers 33.5 

| Mliiip.sody in Blue 

Minimal workers 20.5 

dititirMic servants 3 

II iih\iiu:n, shopkeepers 20 

linn .il and commercial employees 22 

[IIiiidi administrative executives 27.5 
jlhHoi commercial executives, secretaries 26.5 

liilmuans 42 

Hicilii;tl-social services 20 

|nini.iiy teachers 20 intermediaries, art craftsmen 22.5 

llliliiMiial and commercial employers 22.5 

|ilililn -sector executives 1 5 

j iHv,ur -sector executives, engineers 29 

jilnlcssions 19 

IH miliary teachers 12.5 
bikini-education teachers, art producers 12 

J Hint- Danube workers 50.5 

iIihiiimk servants 35.5 

MrtliMin'ii. shopkeepers 49 

I Ift [i ,il and commercial employees 52 
jimmi ;i(lministrative executives 34 
jltlimi uimmercial executives, secretaries 29.5 
M» humans 21 

II in In al-social services 15.5 
|illtn,iiy teachers 10 intermediaries, art craftsmen 12.5 
iii(|.i',nial and commercial employers 21.5 
|ilililu -srnor executives 20 

| (in, i ic >cttor executives, engineers 18.5 

jihtlcv.imis 15.5 

« ■ umlary teachers 4 
hi(/lifj education teachers, art producers 



— r~ 




__ T _ 







18 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

{Rhapsody in Blue) characterizes, in addition to all the works and authors 
mentioned (plus the Twilight of the Gods), 'photography', 'comfortable, cosy 
home' etc; and the third (Blue Danube) is equally valid for 'love stories' 
and 'clean, tidy home' etc 

The Titles of Cultural Nobility 

A relationship as close as that between academic capital (measured by du- 
ration of schooling) and knowledge or practices in areas as remote from 
academic education as music or painting, not to mention jazz or the cin- 
ema — like the correlation between museum visits and level of educa- 
tion — raises in the highest degree the question of the significance of the 
relationship, in other words, the question of the real identity of the two 
linked terms which are defined in their very relationship. One has ex- 
plained nothing and understood nothing by establishing the existence of 
a correlation between an 'independent' variable and a 'dependent' vari- 
able. Until one has determined what is designated in the particular case, 
i.e., in each particular relationship, by each term in the relationship (for 
example, level of education and knowledge of composers), the statistical 
relationship, however precisely it can be determined numerically, remains 
a pure datum, devoid of meaning. And the 'intuitive' half-understanding 
with which sociologists are generally satisfied in such cases, while they 
concentrate on refining ihe measurement of the 'intensity' of the rela- 
tionship, together with the illusion of the constancy of the variables or fac- 
tors resulting from the nominal identity of the 'indicators' (whatever they 
may indicate) or of the terms which designate them, tends to rule out 
any questioning of the terms of the relationship as to the meaning they 
take on in that particular relationship and indeed receive from it. 

Both terms of the relationship have to be queried in each case: the in- 
dependent variable — occupation, sex, age, father's occupation, places of 
residence etc., which may express very different effects — and the depen- 
dent variable, which may manifest dispositions that themselves vary con- 
siderably depending on the classes divided up by the independent 
variables. Thus, for an adequate interpretation of the differences found 
between the classes or within the same class as regards their relation to 
the various legitimate arts, painting, music, theatre, literature etc, one 
would have to analyse fully the social uses, legitimate or illegitimate, to 
which each of the arts, genres, works or institutions considered lends it- 
self. For example, nothing more clearly affirms one's 'class', nothing more 
infallibly classifies, than tastes in music This is of course because, by vir- 
tue of the rarity of the conditions for acquiring the corresponding dispo- 
sitions, there is no more 'classifactory' practice than concert-going or 
playing a 'noble' instrument (activities which, other things being equal, 
are less widespread than theatre-going, museum-going or even visits to 
modern-art galleries). But it is also because the flaunting of 'musical cul- 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 19 

ture' is not a cultural display like others: as regards its social definition, 
'musical culture' is something other than a quantity of knowledge and 
experiences combined with the capacity to talk about them. Music is the 
most 'spiritual' of the arts of the spirit and a love of music is a guarantee 
of 'spirituality'. One only has to think of the extraordinary value nowa- 
days conferred on the lexis of 'listening' by the secularized (e.g., psy- 
choanalytical) versions of religious language. As the countless variations 
on the soul of music and the music of the soul bear witness, music is 
bound up with 'inferiority' ('inner music') of the 'deepest' sort and all 
concerts are sacred. For a bourgeois world which conceives its relation to 
the populace in terms of the relationship of the soul to the body, 'insensi- 
tivity to music' doubtless represents a particularly unavowable form of 
materialist coarseness. But this is not all. Music is the 'pure' art par ex- 
cellence. It says nothing and has nothing to say, Never really having an 
expressive function, it is opposed to drama, which even in its most re- 
fined forms still bears a social message and can only be 'put over' on the 
basis of an immediate and profound affinity with the values and expecta- 
tions of its audience. The theatre divides its public and divides itself. The 
Parisian opposition between right-bank and left-bank theatre, bourgeois 
theatre and avant-garde theatre, is inextricably aesthetic and political. 
Nothing comparable occurs in music (with some rare, recent excep- 
tions). Music represents the most radical and most absolute form of the 
negation of the world, and especially the social world, which the bour- 
geois ethos tends to demand of all forms of art. 

For an adequate interpretation of what would be implied in a table 
correlating occupation, age or sex with a preference for the Well-Tempered 
Clavier or the Concerto for the Left Hand, one has to break both with the 
blind use of indicators and with spurious, essentialist analyses which are 
merely the universalizing of a particular experience, in order to make 
completely explicit the multiple, contradictory meanings which these 
works take on at a given moment for the totality of social agents and in 
particular for the categories of individuals whom they distinguish or who 
differ with respect to them (in this particular case, the 'inheritors' and 
the 'newcomers'). One would have to take account, on the one hand, of 
the socially pertinent properties attached to each of them, that is, the so- 
cial image of the works ('baroquey'modern', harmony/dissonance, 
rigour/lyricism etc.), the composers and perhaps especially the corre- 
sponding instruments (the sharp, rough timbre of plucked strings/the 
warm, bourgeois timbre of hammered strings); and, on the other hand, 
the distributional properties acquired by these works in their relation- 
ship (perceived with varying clarity depending on the case) with the dif- 
ferent classes or class fractions {\a fait . , .') and with the corresponding 
conditions of reception (belated knowledge through records/early 
knowledge through playing the piano, the bourgeois instrument par 

20 / A Social Critique of the judgement of Taste 

The opposition found ar rhc level of distributional properties is generally 
homologous to that found at the level of stylistic characteristics. This is be- 
cause homology between the positions of the producers (or the works) in 
the field of production and the positions of the consumers in social space 
(i.e., in the overall class structure or in the structure of the dominant class) 
seems to be the most frequent case. Roughly speaking, the amateur of Mal- 
larme is likely to be to the amateur of Zola as Mallarme was to Zola. Dif- 
ferences between works are predisposed to express differences between 
authors, partly because, in both style and content, they bear the mark of 
their authors' socially constituted dispositions (that is, their social origins, 
retranslated as a function of the positions in the field of production which 
these dispositions played a large part in determining); and partly because 
they remain marked by the social significance which they received from 
their opposition, and that of their authors, in the field of production (e.g., 
left/right, clear/obscure etc.) and which is perpetuated by the university 

It is also clear what would be required for an adequate interpretation 
of the bourgeois predilection for the 'Impressionists', whose simulta- 
neously lyrical and naturalistic adherence to natural or human nature 
contrasts both with realist or critical representation of the social worJd 
(doubtless one dimension of the opposition between Renoir and Goya, 
not to mention Courbet or Daumier) and with all forms of abstraction. 
Again, to understand the class distribution of the various sports, one 
would have to take account of the representation which, in terms of their 
specific schemes of perception and appreciation, the different classes have 
of the costs (economic, cultural and 'physical') and benefits attached to 
the different sports — immediate or deferred 'physical' benefits (health, 
beauty, strength, whether visible, through 'body-building' or invisible 
through 'keep-fit 1 exercises), economic and social benefits (upward mo- 
bility etc.), immediate or deferred symbolic benefits linked to the distri- 
butional or positional value of each of the sports considered (i.e., all that 
each of them receives from its greater or lesser rarity, and its more or 
less clear association with a class, with boxing, football, rugby or body- 
building evoking the working classes, rennis and skiing the bourgeoisie 
and golf rhe upper bourgeoisie), gains in distinction accruing from rhe 
effects on the body itself (e.g., slimness, sun-tan, muscles obviously or 
discreetly visible etc.) or from the access to highly selective groups which 
some of these sports give (golf, polo etc.). 

Thus the only way of completely escaping from the intuitionism which in- 
evitably accompanies positivistic faith in the nominal identity of the indica- 
tors would be to carry out a — strictly interminable — analysis of the social 
value of each of the properties or practices considered — a Louis XV com- 
mode or a Brahms symphony, reading Historia or Le Figaro, playing rugby 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 21 

or the accordion and so on. The statistics of the class distribution of news- 
paper reading would perhaps be interpreted less blindly if sociologists bore 
in mind Proust's analysis of 'that abominable, voluptuous act called "read- 
ing the paper", whereby all the misfortunes and cataclysms suffered by the 
universe in the last twenty-four hours — battles which have cost the lives of 
fifty thousand men, murders, strikes, bankruptcies, fires, poisonings, sui- 
cides, divorces, the cruel emotions of statesman and actor, transmuted into 
a morning feast for our personal entertainment, make an excellent and par- 
ticularly bracing accompaniment to a few mouthfuls of cafe au laiC This 
description of the aesthete's variant invites an analysis of the class variations 
and the invariants of the mediated, relatively abstract experience of the so- 
cial world supplied by newspaper reading, for example, as a function of 
variations in social and spatial distance (with, at one extreme, the local 
items in the regional dailies — marriages, deaths, accidents — and, at the other 
extreme, international news, or, on another scale, the royal engagements 
and weddings in the glossy magazines) or in political commitment (from 
the detachment depicted in Proust's text to the activist's outrage or 

In fact, the absence of this kind of preliminary analysis of the social sig- 
nificance of the indicators can make the most rigorous-seeming surveys 
quite unsuitable for a sociological reading. Because they forget that the ap- 
parent constancy of the products conceals the diversity of the social uses 
they are put to, many surveys on consumption impose on them taxonomies 
which have sprung straight from the statisticians' social unconscious, asso- 
ciating things that ought to be separated (e.g., white beans and green 
beans) and separating things that could be associated (e.g., white beans and 
bananas — the latter are to fruit as the former are to vegetables). What is 
there to be said about the collection of products brought together by the 
apparently neuttal category 'cereals' — bread, rusks, rice, pasta, flour — and 
especially the class variations in the consumption of these products, when 
one knows that 'rice' alone includes 'rice pudding' and riz au gras, or rice 
cooked in broth (which tend to be 'working-class') and 'curried rice' (more 
'bourgeois' or, more precisely, 'intellectual* ), not to mention 'brown rice' 
(which suggests a whole life-style)? Though, of course, no 'natural' or man- 
ufactured product is equally adaptable to all possible social uses, there are 
very few that are perfectly 'univocaP and it is rarely possible to deduce the 
social use from the thing itself. Except for products specially designed for a 
particular use (like 'slimming bread') or closely tied to a class, by tradition 
(like tea — in France) or price (like caviar), most products only derive their 
social value from the social use that is made of them. As a consequence, in 
these areas the only way to find the class variations is to introduce them 
from the start, by replacing words or things whose apparently uni vocal 
meaning creates no difficulty for the abstract classifications of the academic 
unconscious, with the social uses in which they become fully determined. 
Hence it is necessary to attend, for example, to ways of photographing and 
ways of cooking — in the casserole or the pressure-cooker, i.e., without 
counting time and money, or quickly and cheaply — or to the products of 
these operations — family snaps or photos of folk dancing, boeuf bourguignon 
or curried rice. 

22 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

Appearances, need 1 repeat, always support appearances; and sociological 
science, which cannot find the differences between the social classes unless 
it introduces them from the start, is bound to appear prejudiced to those 
who dissolve the differences, in all good faith and with impeccable method, 
simply by surrendering to positivistic laisser-faire. 

But the substantialist mode of thinking is perhaps most unrestrained 
when it comes to the search for 'explanatory factors'. Slipping from the 
substantive to the substance (to paraphrase Wittgenstein), from the con- 
stancy of the substantive to the constancy of the substance, it treats the 
properties attached to agents — occupation, age, sex, qualifications — as 
forces independent of the relationship within which they 'act'. This elimi- 
nates the question of what is determinant in the determinant variable 
and what is determined in the determined variable, in other words, the 
question of what, among the properties chosen, consciously or uncon- 
sciously, through the indicators under consideration, constitutes the per- 
tinent property that is really capable of determining the relationship within 
which it is determined. Purely statistical calculation of the variations in 
the intensity of the relationship between a particular indicator and any 
given practice does not remove the need for the specifically sociological 
calculation of the effects which are expressed in the statistical relationship 
and which statistical analysis, when oriented towards the search for its 
own intelligibility, can help to discover. One has to cake the relationship 
itself as the object of study and scrutinize its sociological significance 
{signification) rather than its statistical 'significantness' (significative ); 
only in this way is it possible to replace the relationship between a sup- 
posedly constant variable and different practices by a series of different 
effects — sociologically intelligible constant relationships which are simul- 
taneously revealed and concealed in the statistical relationships between a 
given indicator and different practices. The truly scientific endeavour has 
to break with the spurious self-evidences of immediate understanding (to 
which the pseudo-refinements of statistical analysis — e.g., path analysis- 
bring unexpected reinforcement) . In place of the phenomenal relation- 
ship between this or that 'dependent variable' and variables such as level 
of education or social origin, which are no more than common-sense notions 
and whose apparent 'explanatory power' stems from the mental habits of 
common-sense knowledge of the social world, it aims to establish 'an exact 
relation of well-defined concepts', the rational principle of the effects 
which the statistical relationship records despite everything — for example, 
the relationship between the titles of nobility (or marks of infamy) 
awarded by the educational system and the practices they imply, or be- 
tween the disposition required by works of legitimate art and the dispo- 
sition which, deliberately and consciously or not, is taught in schools. 

the entitlement effect Knowing the relationship which exists be- 
tween cultural capital inherited from the family and academic capital, by 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 23 

virtue of the logic of the transmission of cultural capital and the func- 
tioning of the educational system, one cannot impute the strong correla- 
tion, observed between competence in music or painting (and the 
practice it presupposes and makes possible) and academic capital, solely 
to the operation of the educational system (still less to the specifically 
artistic education it is supposed to give, which is clearly almost non-exis- 
tent). Academic capital is in fact the guaranteed product of the com- 
bined effects of cultural transmission by the family and cultural 
transmission by the school (the efficiency of which depends on the 
amount of cultural capital directly inherited from the family). Through 
its value-inculcating and value-imposing operations, the school also helps 
(to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the initial disposition, i.e., 
class of origin) to form a general, transposable disposition towards legiti- 
mate culture, which is first acquired with respect to scholastically recog- 
nized knowledge and practices but tends to be applied beyond the 
bounds of the curriculum, taking the form of a 'disinterested' propensity 
to accumulate experience and knowledge which may not be directly prof- 
itable in the academic market. 

The educational system defines non-curricular general culture (la culture 
'libre'), negatively at least, by delimiting, within the dominant culture, the 
area of what it puts into its syllabuses and controls by its examinations. It 
has been shown that the most 'scholastic* cultural objects are those taught 
and required at the lowest levels of schooling (the extreme form of the 
'scholastic 1 being the 'elementary'), and that the educational system sets an 
increasingly high value on 'general' culture and increasingly refuses 'scholas- 
tic' measurements of culture (such as direct, closed questions on authors, 
dates and events) as one moves towards the highest levels of the system. 

In fact, the generalizing tendency of the cultivated disposition is only a 
necessary, not a sufficient, condition for the enterprise of cultural appro- 
priation, which is inscribed, as an objective demand, in membership of 
the bourgeoisie and in the qualifications giving access to its rights and 
duties. This is why we must first stop to consider what is perhaps the 
best-hidden effect of the educational system, the one it produces by im- 
posing 'titles', a particular case of the attribution by status, whether 
positive (ennobling) or negative (stigmatizing), which every group pro- 
duces by assigning individuals to hierarchically ordered classes. Whereas 
the holders of educationally uncertified cultural capital can always be re- 
quired to prove themselves, because they are only what they do, merely a 
by-product of their own cultural production, the holders of titles of cul- 
tural nobility — like the titular members of an aristocracy, whose 'being', 
defined by their fidelity to a lineage, an estate, a race, a past, a fatherland 
or a tradition, is irreducible to any 'doing', to any know-how or func- 
tion — only have to be what they are, because all their practices derive 
their value from their authors, being the affirmation and perpetuation of 

24 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

the essence by virtue of which they are performed 7 Defined by the titles 
which predispose and legitimate them in being what they are, which 
make what they do the manifestation of an essence earlier and greater 
than its manifestations, as in the Platonic dream of a division of func- 
tions based on a hierarchy of beings, they are separated by a difference in 
kind from the commoners of culture, who are consigned to the doubly 
devalued status of autodidact and 'stand-in 1 . 

Aristocracies are essentialist. Regarding existence as an emanation of 
essence, they set no intrinsic value on the deeds and misdeeds enrolled in 
the records and registries of bureaucratic memory, They prize them only 
insofar as they clearly manifest, in the nuances of their manner, that their 
one inspiration is the perpetuating and celebrating of the essence by vir- 
tue of which they are accomplished. The same essentialism requires them 
to impose on themselves what their essence imposes on them — noblesse 
oblige — to ask of themselves what no one else could ask, to 'live up' to 
their own essence. 

This effect is one of the mechanisms which, in conditions of crisis, cause 
the most privileged individuals, who remain most attached to the former 
state of affairs, to be the slowest to understand the need to change strategy 
and so to fall victim to their own privilege (for example, ruined nobles 
who refuse to change theif ways, or the heirs of great peasant families who 
remain celibate rather than marry beneath them). It could be shown, in the 
same way, that the ethic of noblesse oblige, still found in some fractions of 
the peasantry and traditional craftsmen, contributes significantly to the self- 
exploitation characteristic of these classes. 

This gives us an insight into the effect of academic markers and classi- 
fications. However, for a full understanding we have to consider another 
property of all aristocracies. The essence in which they see themselves re- 
fuses to be contained in any definition. Escaping petty rules and regula- 
tions, it is, by nature, freedom. Thus, for the academic aristocracy it is 
one and the same thing to identify with an essence of the 'cultivated 
man' and to accept the demands implicitly inscribed in it, which increase 
with the prestige of the title. 

So there is nothing paradoxical in the fact that in its ends and means 
the educational system defines the enterprise of legitimate 'autodidacticism' 
which the acquisition of 'general culture' presupposes, an enterprise that 
is ever more strongly demanded as one rises in the educational hierarchy 
(between sections, disciplines, and specialities etc., or between levels). 
The essentially contradictory phrase 'legitimate autodidacticism' is in- 
tended to indicate the difference in kind between the highly valued 
'extra-curricular' culture of the holder of academic qualifications and the 
illegitimate extra-curricular culture of the autodidact. The reader of the 
popular-science monthly Science et Vie who talks about the genetic code 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 25 

or the incest taboo exposes himself to ridicule as soon as he ventures 
outside the circle of his peers, whereas Claude Levi-Strauss or Jacques 
Monod can only derive additional prestige from their excursions into the 
field of music or philosophy. Illegitimate extra-curricular culture, 
whether it be the knowledge accumulated by the self-taught or the 'expe- 
rience' acquired in and through practice, outside the control of the insti- 
tution specifically mandated to inculcate it and officially sanction its 
acquisition, like the art of cooking or herbal medicine, craftsmen's skills 
or the stand-in's irreplaceable knowledge, is only valorized to the strict 
extent of its technical efficiency, without any social added-value, and is 
exposed to legal sanctions (like the illegal practice of medicine) when- 
ever it emerges from the domestic universe to compete with authorized 

Thus, it is written into the tacit definition of the academic qualifica- 
tion formally guaranteeing a specific competence (like an engineering di- 
ploma) that it really guarantees possession of a 'general culture' whose 
breadth is proportionate to the prestige of the qualification; 9 and, con- 
versely, that no real guarantee may be sought of what it guarantees for- 
mally and really or, to put it another way, of the extent to which it 
guarantees what it guarantees. This effect of symbolic imposition is most 
intense in the case of the diplomas consecrating the cultural elite. The 
qualifications awarded by the French grandei ecoles guarantee, without any 
other guarantee, a competence extending far beyond what they are sup- 
posed to guarantee. This is by virtue of a clause which, though tacit, is 
firstly binding on the qualification-holders themselves, who are called 
upon really to procure the attributes assigned to them by their status. 11 

This process occurs at all stages of schooling, through the manipula- 
tion of aspirations and demands — in other words, of self-image and self- 
esteem — which the educational system carries out by channelling pupils 
towards prestigious or devalued positions implying or excluding legiti- 
mate practice. The effect of 'allocation', i.e., assignment to a section, a 
discipline (philosophy or geography, mathematics or geology, to take the 
extremes) or an institution (a grand 'e kole that is more or less grande, or a 
faculty), mainly operates through the social image of the position in 
question and the prospects objectively inscribed in it, among the fore- 
most of which are a certain type of cultural accumulation and a certain 
image of cultural accomplishment. The official differences produced by 
academic classifications tend to produce (or reinforce) real differences by 
inducing in the classified individuals a collectively recognized and sup- 
ported belief in the differences, thus producing behaviours that are in- 
tended to bring real being into line with official being. Activities as alien 
to the explicit demands of the institution as keeping a diary, wearing 
heavy make-up, theatre-going or going dancing, writing poems or play- 
ing rugby can thus find themselves inscribed in the position allotted 
within the institution as a tacit demand constantly underlined by various 

26 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

mediations. Among the most important of these are teachers' conscious 
or unconscious expectations and peer-group pressure, whose ethical ori- 
entation is itself defined by the class values brought into and reinforced 
by the institution. This allocation effect and the status assignment it en- 
tails doubtless play a major role in the fact that the educational institu- 
tion succeeds in imposing cultural practices that it does not teach and 
does not even explicitly demand, but which belong to the attributes at- 
tached by status to the position it assigns, the qualifications it awards and 
the social positions to which the latter give access. 

This logic doubtless helps to explain how the legitimate disposition 
that is acquired by frequent contact with a particular class of works, 
namely, the literary and philosophical works recognized by the academic 
canon, comes to be extended to other, less legitimate works, such as 
avant-garde literature, or to areas enjoying less academic recognition, 
such as the cinema. The generalizing tendency is inscribed in the very 
principle of the disposition to recognize legitimate works, a propensity 
and capacity to recognize their legitimacy and perceive them as worthy of 
admiration in themselves, which is inseparable from the capacity to rec- 
ognize in them something already known, i.e., the stylistic traits appro- 
priate to characterize them in their singularity ('It's a Rembrandt', or 
even 'It's the Helmeted Man') or as members of a class of works ('It's Im- 
pressionist'). This explains why the propensity and capacity to accumu- 
late 'gratuitous' knowledge, such as the names of film directors, are more 
closely and exclusively linked to educational capital than is mere cinema- 
going, which is more dependent on income, place of residence and age. 

Cinema-going, measured by the number of films seen among the twenty 
films mentioned in the survey, is lower among the less-educated than 
among the more highly educated, but also lower among provincials (in 
Lille) than among Parisians, among low-income than among high-income 
groups, and among old than among young people. And the same relation- 
ships are found in the surveys by the Centre d'etudes des supports de publi- 
cite (CESP); the proportion who say they have been to the cinema at least 
once in the previous week (a more reliable indicator of behaviour than a 
question on cinema-going in the course of the year, for which the tendency 
to overstate is particularly strong) is rather greater among men than 
women (7.8 percent compared to 5.3 percent), greater in the Paris area 
(10.9 percent) than in towns of over 100,000 people (7.7 percent) or in 
rural areas (3.6 percent), greater among senior executives and members of 
the professions (11.1 percent) than among junior executives (9.5 percent) 
or clerical and commercial employees (9-7 percent), skilled manual workers 
and foremen (73 percent), semi-skilled workers (63 percent), small em- 
ployers (5.2 percent) and farmers and farm workers (2.6 percent). But the 
greatest contrasts are between the 1 youngest (22.4 percent of the 21-24 year 
olds had been to the cinema at least once in the previous week) and the 
oldest (only 3.2 percent of the 35-49 year olds, 1.7 percent of the 50-64 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 27 

year olds and 1.1 percent of the over-65s), and between the most and least 
highly educated (18.2 percent of those who had been through higher edu- 
cation, 9-5 percent of those who had had secondary education, and 2.2 per- 
cent of those who had had only primary education or none at all had been 
to the cinema in the previous. week) (C.S. Xllla). 

Knowledge of directors is much more closely linked to cultural capital 
than is mere cinema-going. Only 5 percent of the respondents who had an 
elementary school diploma could name at least four directors (from a list of 
twenty films) compared to 10 percent of holders of the BEPC or the bacca- 
laureat and 22 percent of those who had had higher education, whereas the 
proportion in each category who had seen at least four of the twenty films 
was 22 percent, 33 percent and 40 percent respectively. Thus, although film- 
viewing also varies with educational capital (less so, however, than visits to 
museums and concerts), it seems that differences in consumption are not 
sufficient to explain the differences in knowledge of directors between 
holders of different qualifications. This conclusion would probably also hold 
good for jazz, strip cartoons, detective stories or science fiction, now that 
these genres have begun to achieve cultural consecration. 11 

Further proof is that, while increasing slightly with level of education 
(from 13 percent for the least educated to 18 percent for those with second- 
ary education and 23 percent for the most qualified), knowledge of actors 
varies mainly — and considerably — with the number of films seen. This 
awareness, like knowledge of the slightest events in the lives of TV person- 
alities, presupposes a disposition closer to that required for the acquisition 
of ordinary knowledge about everyday things and people than to the legiti- 
mate disposition. And indeed, these least-educated regular cinema-goers 
knew as many actors' names as the most highly educated. Among those 
who had seen at least four of the films mentioned, 45 percent of those who 
had had only a primary education were able to name four actors, as against 
35 percent of those who had had a secondary education and 47 percent of 
those who had had some higher education. Interest in actors is greatest 
among office workers: on average they named 2.8 actors and one director, 
whereas the craftsmen and small shopkeepers, skilled workers and foremen 
named, on average, only 0.8 actors and 0.3 directors. (The secretaries and 
junior commercial executives, who also knew a large number of actors — av- 
erage 2.4 — were more interested in directors — average 1.4 — and those in the 
social and medical services even named more directors — 1.7 — than actors — 
1.4). The reading of sensational weeklies (e.g., Ici Paris) which give infor- 
mation about the lives of stars is a product of a disposition similar to inter- 
est in actors; it is more frequent among women than men (10.8 percent 
had read Ici Paris in the last week, compared to 9-3 percent of the men), 
among skilled workers and foremen (14.5 percent), semi-skilled workers 
(13.6 percent), or office workers (10.3 percent) than among junior execu- 
tives (8.6 percent) and especially among senior executives and members of 
the professions (3.8 percent) (C.S. XXVIII). 

By contrast, although at equivalent levels of education, knowledge of 
directors increases with the number of films seen, in this area assiduous cin- 
ema-going does not compensate for absence of educational capital: 45.5 per- 
cent of the CEP-holders who had seen at least four of the films mentioned 

28 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

could not name a single director, compared to 27.5 percent of those with a 
BEPC or the baccalaureat and 13 percent of those with a higher education 

Such competence is not necessarily acquired by means of the 'scholas- 
tic' labours in which some 'cinephiles' or 'jazz-freaks' indulge (e.g., tran- 
scribing film credits onto catalogue cards). H Most often it results ftom 
the unintentional learning made possible by a disposition acquired 
through domestic or scholastic inculcation of legitimate culture. This 
transposable disposition, armed with a set of perceptual and evaluative 
schemes that are available for general application, inclines its owner to- 
wards other cultural experiences and enables him to perceive, classify and 
memorize them differently. Where some only see *a Western starring 
Burt Lancaster', others 'discover an early John Sturges' or 'the latest Sam 
Peckinpah'. In identifying what is worthy of being seen and the right 
way to see it, they are aided by their whole social group (which guides 
and reminds them with its 'Have you seen . . . ?' and 'You must see . . .') 
and by the whole corporation of critics mandated by the group to pro- 
duce legitimate classifications and the discourse necessarily accompanying 
any artistic enjoyment worthy of the name. 

It is possible to explain in such terms why cultural practices which 
schools do not teach and never explicitly demand vary in such close rela- 
tion to educational qualifications (it being understood, of course, that 
we are provisionally suspending the distinction between the school's role 
in the correlation observed and that of the other socializing agencies, in 
particular the family). But the fact that educational qualifications func- 
tion as a condition of entry to the universe of legitimate culture cannot 
be fully explained without taking into account another, still more hid- 
den effect which the educational system, again reinforcing the work of 
the bourgeois family, exerts through the very conditions within which it 
inculcates. Thtough the educational qualification certain conditions of 
existence are designated — those which constitute the precondition for 
obtaining the qualification and also the aesthetic disposition, the most 
rigorously demanded of all the terms of entry which the world of legiti- 
mate culture (always tacitly) imposes. Anticipating what will be demon- 
strated later, one can posit, in broad terms, that it is because they are 
linked either to a bourgeois origin or to the quasi-bourgeois mode of ex- 
istence presupposed by prolonged schooling, or (most often) to both of 
these combined, that educational qualifications come to be seen as a guar- 
antee of the capacity to adopt the aesthetic disposition. 

the aesthetic disposition Any legitimate work tends in fact to im- 
pose the norms of its own perception and tacitly defines as the only legiti- 
mate mode of perception the one which brings into play a certain 
disposition and a certain competence. Recognizing this fact does not 
mean constituting a particular mode of perception as an essence, thereby 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 29 

falling into the illusion which is the basis of recognition of artistic legiti- 
macy- It does mean taking note of the fact that all agents, whether they 
like it or not, whether or not they have the means of conforming to 
them, find themselves objectively measured by those norms, A t the same 
time it becomes possible to establish whether these dispositions and 
competences are gifts of nature, as the charismatic ideology of the rela- 
tion to the work of art would have it, or products of learning, and to 
bring to light the hidden conditions of the miracle of the unequal class 
distribution of the capacity for inspired encounters with works of art and 
high culture in general. 

Every essentialist analysis of the aesthetic disposition, the only socially 
accepted 'right' way of approaching the objects socially designated as 
works of art, that is, as both demanding and deserving to be approached 
with a specifically aesthetic intention capable of recognizing and consti- 
tuting them as works of art, is bound to fail. Refusing to take account of 
the collective and individual genesis of this product of history which 
must be endlessly 're-produced' by education, it is unable to reconstruct 
its sole raison d'etre, that is, the historical reason which underlies the ar- 
bitrary necessity of the institution. If the work of art is indeed, as Pan- 
ofsky says, that which 'demands to be experienced aesrhetically', and if 
any object, natural or artificial, can be perceived aesthetically, how can 
one escape the conclusion that it is the aesthetic intention which 'makes 
the work of art', or, to transpose a formula of Saussure's, that it is the 
aesthetic point of view that creates the aesthetic object? To get out of 
this vicious circle, Panofsky has to endow the work of art with an 'inten- 
tion', in the Scholastic sense. A purely 'practical' perception contradicts 
this objective intention, just as an aesthetic perception would in a sense 
be a practical negation of the objective intention of a signal, a red light 
for example, which requires a 'practical* response: braking. Thus, within 
the class of worked-upon objects, themselves defined in opposition to 
natural objects, the class of art objects would be defined by the fact that it 
demands to be perceived aesthetically, i.e., in terms of form rather than 
function. But how can such a definition be made operational? Panofsky 
himself observes that it is virtually impossible to determine scientifically 
at what moment a worked-upon object becomes an art object, that is, at 
what moment form takes over from function: 'If I write to a friend to 
invite him to dinner, my letter is primarily a communication. But the 
more I shift the emphasis to the form of my script, the more nearly does 
it become a work of literature or poetry.' 15 

Does this meaa that the demarcation line between the world of tech- 
nical objects and the world of aesthetic objects depends on the 'intention' 
of the producer of those objects? In fact, this 'intention' is itself the prod- 
uct of the social norms and conventions which combine to define the 
always uncertain and historically changing frontier between simple tech- 
nical objects and objets d'art: 'Classical tastes', Panofsky observes, 'de- 
manded that private letters, legal speeches and the shields of heroes 

30 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

should be "artistic" . . . while modern taste demands that architecture 
and ash trays should be "functional".' 16 

But the apprehension and appreciation of the work also depend on the 
beholder's intention, which is itself a function of the conventional norms 
governing the relation to the work of art in a certain historical and social 
situation and also of the beholder's capacity to conform to those norms, 
i.e., his artistic training. To break out of this circle one only has to ob- 
serve that the ideal of 'pure' perception of a work of art qua work of art is 
the product of the enunciation and systematization of the principles of 
specifically aesthetic legitimacy which accompany the constituting of a 
relatively autonomous artistic field. The aesthetic mode of perception in 
the 'pure' form which it has now assumed corresponds to a particular 
state of the mode of artistic production. An art which, like all Post- 
Impressionist painting, for example, is the product of an artistic inten- 
tion which asserts the absolute primacy of form over function, of the mode of 
representation over the object represented, categorically demands a purely 
aesthetic disposition which earlier art demanded only conditionally. The 
demiurgic ambition of the artist, capable of applying to any object the 
pure intention of an artistic effort which is an end in itself, calls for un- 
limited receptiveness on the part of an aesthete capable of applying the 
specifically aesthetic intention to any object, whether or not it has been 
produced with aesthetic intention. 

This demand is objectified in the art museum; there the aesthetic dis- 
position becomes an institution. Nothing more totally manifests and 
achieves the autonomizing of aesthetic activity vis-a-vis extra-aesthetic 
interests or functions than the art museum's juxtaposition of works. 
Though originally subordinated to quite different or even incompatible 
functions (crucifix and fetish, Pieta and still life), these juxtaposed works 
tacitly demand attention to form rather than function, technique rather 
than theme, and, being constructed in styles that are mutually exclusive 
but all equally necessary, they are a practical challenge to the expectation 
of realistic representation as defined by the arbitrary canons of an every- 
day aesthetic, and so lead naturally from stylistic relativism to the neu- 
tralization of the very function of representation. Objects previously 
treated as collectors' curios or historical and ethnographic documents 
have achieved the status of works of art, thereby materializing the omnip- 
otence of the aesthetic gaze and making it difficult to ignore the fact 
that — if it is not to be merely an arbitrary and therefore suspect affirma- 
tion of this absolute power — artistic contemplation now has to include a 
degree of erudition which is liable to damage the illusion of immediate 
illumination that is an essential element of pure pleasure. 

pure taste and 'barbarous' taste In short, never perhaps has more 
been asked of the spectator, who is now required to 're-produce' the pri- 
mary operation whereby the artist (with the complicity of his whole in- 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 3 1 

rdlcctual field) produced this new fetish. 17 But never perhaps has he 
lucn given so much in return. The naive exhibitionism of 'conspicuous 
t onsumption', which seeks distinction in the crude display of ill-mastered 
luxury, is nothing compared to the unique capacity of the pure gaze, a 
quasi-creative power which sets the aesthete apart from the common herd 
by a radical difference which seems to be inscribed in 'persons'. One only 
has to read Ortega y Gasset to see the reinforcement the charismatic ide- 
ology derives from art, which is 'essentially unpopular, indeed, anti- 
popular* and from the 'curious sociological effect* it produces by dividing 
i he public into two 'antagonistic castes', those who understand and those 
who do not'. 'This implies', Ortega goes on, 'that some possess an organ 
of understanding which others have been denied; that these are two dis- 
tinct varieties of the human species. The new art is not for everyone, like 
Romantic art, but destined for an especially gifted minority.' And he as- 
cribes to the 'humiliation' and 'obscure sense of inferiority' inspired by 
'this art of privilege, sensuous nobility, instinctive aristocracy', the irrita- 
tion it arouses in the mass, 'unworthy of artistic sacraments': 'For a cen- 
tury and a half, the "people", the mass, have claimed to be the whole of 
society. The music of Stravinsky or the plays of Pirandello have the socio- 
logical power of obliging them to -see themselves as they are, as the 
"common people", a mere ingredient among others in the social struc- 
ture, the inert material of the historical process, a secondary factor in the 
spiritual cosmos. By contrast, the young art helps the "best" to know and 
recognize one another in the greyness of the multitude and to learn their 
mission, which is to be few in number and to have to fight against the 
multitude.' 18 

And to show that the self-legitimating imagination of the 'happy 
lew' has no limits, one only has to quote a recent text by Suzanne 
Linger, who is presented as 'one of the world's most infl uential philoso- 
phers': 'In the past, the masses did not have access to art; music, painting, 
and even books, were pleasures reserved for the rich. It might have been 
supposed that the poor, the "common people", would have enjoyed 
them equally, if they had had the chance. But now that everyone can 
read, go to museums, listen to great music, at least on the radio, the 
judgement of the masses about these things has become a reality and 
through this it has become clear that great art is not a direct sensuous 
pleasure. Otherwise, like cookies or cocktails, it would flatter uneducated 
taste as much as cultured taste.' 19 

It should not be thought that the relationship of distinction (which 
may or may not imply the conscious intention of distinguishing oneself 
from common people) is only an incidental component in the aesthetic 
disposition. The pure gaze implies a break with the ordinary attitude to- 
wards the world which, as such, is a social break. One can agree with Or- 
tega y Gasset when he attributes to modern art — which merely takes to 
its extreme conclusions an intention implicit in art since the Renais- 

32 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

sance — a systematic tefusal of all that is 'human', by which he means the 
passions, emotions and feelings which ordinary people put into their ordi- 
nary existence, and consequently all the themes and objects capable of 
evoking them: 'People like a play when they are able to take an interest 
in the human destinies put before them', in which 'they participate as if 
they were real-life events.' Rejecting the 'human' clearly means reject- 
ing what is generic, i.e., common, 'easy' and immediately accessible, start- 
ing with everything that reduces the aesthetic animal to pure and simple 
animality, to palpable pleasure or sensual desire. The interest in the 
content of the representation which leads people to call 'beautiful' the 
representation of beautiful things, especially those which speak most im- 
mediately to the senses and the sensibility, is rejected in favour of the in- 
difference and distance which refuse to subordinate judgement of the 
representation to the nature of the object represented. 21 It can be seen 
that it is not so easy to describe the 'pure' gaze without also describing 
the naive gaze which it defines itself against, and vice versa; and that 
there is no neutral, impartial, 'pure' description of either of these oppos- 
ing visions (which does not mean that one has to subscribe to aesthetic 
relativism, when it is so obvious that the 'popular aesthetic' is defined in 
relation to 'high' aesthetics and that reference to legitimate art and its 
negative judgement on 'popular' taste never ceases to haunt the popular 
experience of beauty). Refusal or privation? It is as dangerous to attrib- 
ute the coherence of a systematic aesthetic to the objectively aesthetic 
commitments of ordinary people as it is to adopt, albeit unconsciously, 
the strictly negative conception of ordinary vision which is the basis of 
every 'high' aesthetic. 

the popular 'aesthetic' Everything takes place as if the 'popular aes- 
thetic' were based on the affirmation of continuity between art and life, 
which implies the subordination of form to function, or, one might say, 
on a refusal of the refusal which is the starting point of the high aes- 
thetic, i.e., the clear-cut separation of ordinaty dispositions from the spe- 
cifically aesthetic disposition. The hostility of the working class and of 
the middle-class fractions least rich in cultural capital towards every kind 
of formal experimentation asserts itself both in the theatre and in paint- 
ing, or still more clearly, because they have less legitimacy, in photogra- 
phy and the cinema. In the theatre as in the cinema, the popular audience 
delights in plots that proceed logically and chronologically towards a 
happy end, and 'identifies' better with simply drawn situations and char- 
acters than with ambiguous and symbolic figures and actions or the enig- 
matic problems of the theatre of cruelty, not to mention the suspended 
animation of Beckettian heroes or the bland absurdities of Pinteresque di- 
alogue. Their reluctance or refusal springs not just from lack of familiar- 
ity but from a deep-rooted demand for participation, which formal 
experiment systematically disappoints, especially when, refusing to offer 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 33 

the 'vulgar' attractions of an art of illusion, the theatrical fiction de- 
nounces itself, as in all forms of *play within a play'. Pirandello supplies 
the paradigm here, in plays in which the actors are actors unable to act — 
Six Characters in Search of an Author, Comrne ci (ou comme ca ) or Ce soir on 
improvise — and Jean Genet supplies the formula in the Prologue to The 
Blacks: 'We shall have the politeness, which you have taught us, to make 
communication impossible. The distance initially between us we shall 
increase, by our splendid gestures, our manners and our insolence, for we 
are also acrors.' The desire to enter into the game, identifying with the 
characters' joys and sufferings, worrying about their fate, espousing their 
hopes and ideals, living their life, is based on a form of investment, a sort 
of deliberate 'naivety', ingenuousness, good-natured credulity ('We're 
here to enjoy ourselves'), which tends to accept formal experiments and 
specifically artistic effects only to the extent that they can be forgotten 
and do not get in the way of the substance of the work. 

The cultural divide which associates each class of works with its public 
means that it is not easy to obtain working-class people's first-hand judge- 
ments on formalist innovations in modern art. However, television, 
which brings certain performances of 'high' art into the home, or certain 
cultural institutions (such as the Beaubourg Centre or the Maisons de la 
culture), which briefly bring a working-class public into contact with 
high art and sometimes avant-garde works, create what are virtually ex- 
perimental situations, neither more nor less artificial or unreal than those 
necessarily produced by any survey on legitimate culture in a working- 
class milieu. One then observes the confusion, sometimes almost a sort of 
panic mingled with revolt, that is induced by some exhibits — I am 
thinking of Ben's heap of coal, on view at Beaubourg shortly after it 
opened — whose parodic intention, entirely defined in terms of an artistic 
field and its relatively autonomous history, is seen as a sort of aggression, 
an affront to common sense and sensible people. Likewise, when formal 
experimentation irisinuates itself into their familiar entertainments (e.g., 
TV variety shows with sophisticated technical effects, such as those by 
Jean-Christophe Averty) working-class viewers protest, not only because 
they do not feel the need for these fancy games, but because they some- 
times understand that they derive their necessity from the logic of a field 
of production which excludes them precisely by these games: 'I don't like 
those cut-up things at all, where you see a head, then a nose, then a 
leg. . . . First you see a singer all drawn out, three metres tall, then the 
next minute he's got arms two metres long. Do you find that funny? Oh, 
I just don't like it, it's stupid, I don't see the point of distorting things' 
(a baker, Grenoble). 

Formal refinement — which, in literature or the theatre, leads to obscu- 
rity—is, in the eyes of the working-class public, one sign of what is some- 
times felt to be a desire to keep the uninitiated at arm's length, or, as one 
respondent said about certain cultural programmes on TV, to speak to 

34 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

orher initiates 'over the viewers' heads'." Jr is pan of the paraphernalia 
which always announces the sacred character, separate and separating, of 
high culture — the icy solemnity of the great museums, the grandiose 
luxury of the opera-houses and major theatres, the decor and decorum of 
concert-halls. n Everything takes place as if the working-class audience 
vaguely grasped what is. implied in conspicuous formality, both in art 
and in life, i.e., a sort of censorship of the expressive content which ex- 
plodes in the expressiveness of popular language, and by the same token, 
a distancing, inherent in the calculated coldness of all formal exploration, 
a refusal to communicate concealed at the heart of the communication 
itself, both in an art which takes back and refuses what it seems to deliver 
and in bourgeois politeness, whose impeccable formalism is a permanent 
warning against the temptation of familiarity. Conversely, popular enter- 
tainment secures the spectator's participation in the show and collective 
participation in the festivity which it occasions. If circus and melodrama 
(which are recreated by some sporting spectacles such as wrestling and, 
to a lesser extent, boxing and all forms of team games, such as those 
which have been televised) are more 'popular' than entertainments like 
dancing or theatre, this is not merely because, being less formalized 
(compare, for example, acrobatics with dancing) and less euphemized, 
they offer more direct, more immediate satisfactions. It is also because, 
through the collective festivity they give rise to and the array of spectacu- 
lar delights they offer (I am thinking also of the music-hall, light opera 
or the big feature film) — fabulous sets, glittering costumes, exciting 
music, lively action, enthusiastic actors — like all forms of the comic and 
especially those working through satire or parody of the 'great' (mimics^ 
chansonniers etc.), they satisfy the taste for and sense of revelry, the plain 
speaking and hearty laughter which liberate by setting the social world 
head over heels, overturning conventions and proprieties. 

aesthetic; distancing This popular reaction is the very opposite of 
the detachment of the aesthete, who, as is seen whenever he appropriates 
one of the objects of popular taste (e.g., Westerns or srrip cartoons), in- 
troduces a distance, a gap — the measure of his distant distinction — vis-a- 
vis 'first-degree' perception, by displacing the interest from the 'content', 
characters, plot etc., to the form, to the specifically artistic effects which 
are only appreciated relationally, through a comparison with other works 
which is incompatible with immersion in the singularity of the work im- 
mediately given. Detachment, disinterestedness, indifference — aesthetic 
theory has so often presented these as the only way to recognize the work 
of art for what it is, autonomous, selbstanciig, that one ends up forgetting 
that they really mean disinvestment, detachment, indifference, in orher 
words, the refusal to invest oneself and take things seriously. Worldly- 
wise readers of Rousseau's Lettre sur tes jpectactes, 21 who have long been 
aware that there is nothing more naive and vulgar than to invest too 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 55 

much passion in the things of the mind or to expect too much serious- 
ness of them, tending to assume that intellectual creativity is opposed to 
moral integrity or political consistency, have no answer to Virginia 
Woolf when she criticizes the novels of Wells, Galsworthy and Bennett 
because 'they leave one with a strange sense of incompleteness and dissat- 
isfaction' and the feeling that it is 'necessary to do something — to join a 
society, or, more desperately, to write a cheque', in contrast to works like 
Tristram Shandy or Pride and Prejudice, which, being perfectly 'self-con- 
t.iined', 'leave one with no desire to do anything, except indeed to read 
the book again, and to understand it better.' 

But the refusal of any sort of involvement, any 'vulgar' surrender to 
easy seduction and collective enthusiasm, which is, indirectly at least, the 
origin of the taste for formal complexity and objectless representations, is 
perhaps most clearly seen in reactions to paintings. Thus one finds that 
the higher the level of education, 26 the greater is the proportion of re- 
spondents who, when asked whether a series of objects would make 
hcauriful photographs, refuse the ordinary objects of popular admira- 
tion — a first communion, a sunset or a landscape — as 'vulgar' or 'ugly', or 
reject them as 'trivial', silly, a bit 'wet', or, in Ortega y Gasset's terms, 
naively 'human'; and the greater is the proportion who assert the auton- 
omy of the representation with respect to the thing represented by de- 
claring that a beautiful photograph, and a fortiori a beautiful painting, 
i;in be made from objects socially designated as meaningless — a metal 
(nunc, the bark of a tree, and especially cabbages, a trivial object par ex- 
cellence — or as ugly and repulsive — such as a car crash, a butcher's stall 
(chosen for the Rembrandt allusion) or a snake (for the Boileau refer- 
ence) — or as misplaced — e.g., a pregnant woman (see tables 2 and 3). 

Since it was not possible to set up a genuine experimental situation, we 
(olfected the interviewees' statements about the things they consider 'pho- 
togenic' and which therefore seem to them capable of being looked at aes- 
(hetically (as opposed to things excluded on account of their triviality or 
ugliness or for ethical reasons). The capacity to adopt the aesthetic attitude 
is thus measured by the gap (which, in a field of production that evolves 
through the dialectic of distinction, is also a time-lag, a backwardness) be- 
tween what is constituted as an aesthetic object by the individual or group 
toncerned and what is constituted aesthetically in a given state of the field 
of production by the holders of aesthetic legitimacy. 

The following question was put to the interviewees: 'Given the following 
subjects, is a photographer more likely to produce a beautiful, interesting, 
meaningless or ugly photo: a landscape, a car crash etc.?' In the preliminary 
survey, the interviewees were shown actual photographs, mostly famous 
ones, of the objects which were merely named in the full-scale survey — peb- 
bles, a pregnant woman etc. The reactions evoked by the mere idea of the 
image were entirely consistent with those produced by the image itself (evi- 
dence that the value attributed to the image tends to correspond to the 

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The Aristocracy of Culture / 39 

value attributed ro the thing). Photographs were used partly to avoid the 
legitimacy-imposing effects of paintings and partly because photography is 
perceived as a more accessible practice, so that the judgements expressed 
were likely to be less unreal. 

Although the test employed was designed to collect statements of artistic 
intention rather than to measure the ability to put the intention into prac- 
tice in doing painting or photography or even in the perception of works 
of art, it enables one to identify the factors which determine the capacity to 
adopt the posture socially designated as specifically aesthetic. Factorial analy- 
sis of judgements on 'photogenic' objects reveals an opposition within each 
class between the fractions richest in cultural capital and poorest in eco- 
nomic capital and the fractions richest in economic capital and poorest in 
cultural capital. In the case of the dominant class, higher-education teachers 
and artistic producers (and secondarily, teachers and the professions) are op- 
posed to industrial and commercial employers; private-sector executives and 
engineers are in an intermediate position. In the petite bourgeoisie, the cul- 
tural intermediaries (distinctly separated from the closest fractions, the pri- 
mary teachers, medical services and art craftsmen) are opposed to the small 
shopkeepers or craftsmen and the office workers. 

In addition to the relationship between cultural capital and the negative 
and positive indices (refusal of 'wetness'; the capacity to valorize the trivial) 
of the aesthetic disposition — or, at' least, the capacity to operate the arbi- 
trary classification which, within the universe of worked-upon objects, dis- 
tinguishes the objects socially designated as deserving and demanding an 
aesthetic approach that can recognize and consrirure them as works of art — 
the statistics establish that the preferred objects of would-be aesthetic pho- 
tography, e.g., the folk dance, the weaver or the little girl with her cat, are 
in an intermediate position. The proportion of respondents who consider 
that these things can make a beautiful photograph is highest at the levels 
of the CAP and BEPC, whereas at higher levels they tend to be judged 
either interesting or meaningless. 

The proportion of respondents who say a first communion can make a 
beautiful photo declines up to the level of the licence and then rises again at 
the highest level. This is because a relatively large proportion of the highest- 
qualified subjects assert their aesthetic disposition by declaring that any ob- 
ject can be perceived aesthetically. Thus, in the dominant class, the propor- 
tion who declare that a sunset can make a beautiful photo is greatest at the 
lowest educational level, declines at intermediate levels (some higher educa- 
tion, a minor engineering school), and grows strongly again among those 
who have completed several years of higher education and who tend to con- 
sider that anything is suitable for beautiful photography. 

The statistics also show that women are much more likely than men to 
manifest their repugnance toward repugnant, horrible or distasteful objects: 
44,5 percent of them, as against 35 percent of the men, consider that there 
can only be an ugly photograph of a wounded man, and there are similar 
differences for the butcher's stall (33.5 and 27 percent), the snake (30.5 and 
21.5 percent) or the pregnant woman (45 and 33.5 percent), whereas the 
gap disappears with the still life {6 and 6.5 percent) and the cabbages (20.5 
and 19 percent). The traditional division of labour between the sexes as- 

40 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

signs 'humane' or 'humanitarian' tasks and feelings to women and more 
readily allows them effusions and tears, in the name of the opposition be- 
tween reason and sensibility; men are, ex officio, on the side of culture 
whereas women (like the working class) are cast on the side of nature. 
Women are therefore less imperatively required to censor and repress 'natu- 
ral' feelings as the aesthetic disposition demands (which indicates, inciden- 
tally, that, as will be shown subsequently, the refusal of nature, or rather 
the refusal to surrender to nature, which is the mark of dominant groups — 
who start with j^/£control — is the basis of the aesthetic disposition). 

Women's revulsion is expressed more overtly, at the expense of aesthetic 
neutralization, the more completely they are subject to the traditional 
model of the sexual division of labour and (in other words) the weaker 
their cultural capital and the lower their position in the social hierarchy. 
Women in the new petite bourgeoisie, who, in general, make much greater 
concessions to affective considerations than the men in the same category 
(although they are equally likely to say that there can be a beautiful photo- 
graph of cabbages), much more rarely accept that a photograph of a preg- 
nant woman can only be. ugly than women in any other category (31.5 
percent of them, as against 70 percent of the wives of industrial and com- 
mercial employers, 69.5 percent of the wives of craftsmen and shopkeepers, 
47.5 percent of the wives of manual workers, clerical workers or junior ex- 
ecutives). In doing so they manifest simultaneously their aesthetic preten- 
sions and their desire to be seen as 'liberated' from the ethical taboos 
imposed on their sex. 

Thus, nothing more rigorously distinguishes the different classes than 
the disposition objectively demanded by the legitimate consumption of 
legitimate works, the aptitude for taking a specifically aesthetic point of 
view on objects already constituted aesthetically—and therefore put 
forward for the admiration of those who have learned to recognize the 
signs of the admirable— and the even rarer capacity to constitute aestheti- 
cally objects that are ordinary or even 'common' (because they are appro- 
priated, aesthetically or otherwise, by the 'common people') or to apply 
the principles of a 'pure' aesthetic in the most everyday choices of every- 
day life, in cooking, dress or decoration, for example. 

Statistical enquiry is indispensable in order to establish beyond dispute 
the social conditions of possibility (which will have to be made more ex- 
plicit) of the 'pure' disposition. However, because it inevitably looks like 
a scholastic test intended to measure the respondents against a norm tac- 
itly regarded as absolute, it mav fail to capture the meanings which this 
disposition and the whole attitude to the world expressed in it have for 
the different social classes. What the logic of the test would lead one to 
describe as a deficiency (and that is what it is, from the standpoint of the 
norms defining legitimate perception of works of art) is also a refusal 
which stems from a denunciation of the arbitrary or ostentatious gratui- 
tousness of stylistic exercises or purely formalistic experiments. A certain 
'aesthetic', which maintains that a photograph is justified by the object 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 41 

photographed or by the possible use of the photographic image, is being 
brought into play when manual workers almost invariably reject photog- 
raphy for photography's sake (e.g., the photo of pebbles) as useless, per- 
verse or bourgeois: 'A waste of film', 'They must have film to throw 
away', 'I tell you, there are some people who don't know what to do with 
their time', 'Haven't they got anything better to do with their time than 
photograph things like that?' 'That's bourgeois photography.' 

It must never be forgotten that the working-class 'aesthetic' is a dominated 
'aesthetic' which is constantly obliged to define itself in terms of the domi- 
nant aesthetics. The members of the working class, who can neither ignore 
the high-art aesthetic, which denounces their own 'aesthetic', nor abandon 
their socially conditioned inclinations, but still less proclaim them and legit- 
imate them, often experience their relationship to the aesthetic norms in a 
twofold and contradictory way. This is seen when some manual workers 
grant 'pure' photographs a purely verbal recognition ( this is also the case 
with many petit bourgeois and even some bourgeois who, as regards paint- 
ings, for example, differ from the working class mainly by what they know 
is the right thing to say or do or, still better, not to say): 'It's beautiful, 
but it would never occur to me to take a picture of a thing like that', 'Yes, 
it's beautiful, but you have to like it, it's not my cup of tea.' 

an antf-kantian 'aesthetic 1 It is no accident that, when one sets 
about reconstrucring its logic, the popular 'aesthetic' appears as the nega- 
tive opposite of the Kantian aesthetic, and that the popular ethos implic- 
itly answers each ptoposition of the 'Analytic of the Beautiful' with a 
thesis contradicting it. In order to apprehend what makes the specificity 
of aesthetic judgement, Kant ingeniously distinguished 'that which 
pleases' from 'that which gratifies', and, more generally, strove to separate 
'disinterestedness', the sole guarantee of the specifically aesthetic quality 
of contemplation, from 'the interest of the senses', which defines 'the 
agreeable', and from 'the interest of Reason', which defines 'the Good'. 
By contrast, working-class people, who expect every image to fulfil a 
function, if only that of a sign, refer, often explicitly, to norms of moral- 
ity or agreeableness in all their judgements. Thus the photograph of a 
dead soldier provokes judgements which, whether positive or negative, 
are always responses to the reality of the thing represented or to the 
functions the representation could serve, the horror of war or the denun- 
ciation of the horrors of war which the photographer is supposed to 
produce simply by showing that horror. 27 Similarly, popular naturalism 
recognizes beauty in the image of a beautiful thing or, more rarely, in a 
beautiful image of a beautiful thing: 'Now, that's good, it's almost sym- 
metrical. And she's a beautiful woman. A beautiful woman always looks 
good in a photo.' The Parisian manual worker echoes the plain-speaking 
of Hippias the Sophist: 'I'll tell him what beauty is and I'm not likely to 

42 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

be refuted by him! The fact is, Socrates, to be frank, a beautiful woman, 
that's what beauty is!' (Plato, Greater Hippias, 287e). 

This 'aesthetic', which subordinates the form and rhe very existence of 
the image to its function, is necessarily pluralistic and conditional. The 
insistence with which the respondents point out the limits and condi- 
tions of validity of their judgements, distinguishing, for each photo- 
graph, the possible uses or audiences, or, more precisely, the possible use 
for each audience ('As a news photo, it's not bad', 'All right, if it's for 
showing to kids') shows that they reject the idea that a photograph can 
please 'universally'. 'A photo of a pregnant woman is all right for me, not 
for other people', said a white-collar worker, who has to use his concern 
for propriety as a way of expressing anxiety about what is 'presentable' 
and therefore entitled to demand admiration. Because the image is always 
judged by reference to the function it fulfils for the person who looks at 
it or which he thinks it could fulfil for other classes of beholders, aes- 
thetic judgement naturally takes the form of a hypothetical .judgement 
implicitly based on recognition of 'genres', the perfection and scope of 
which are defined by a concept. Almost three-quarters of the judge- 
ments expressed begin with an 'if, and the effort to recognize culminates 
in classification into a genre, or, which amounts to the same thing, in the 
attribution of a social use, the different genres being defined in terms of 
their use and their users ('It's a publicity photo', 'It's a pure document', 
'It's a laboratory photo', 'It's a competition photo', 'It's an educational 
photo' etc.). And photographs of nudes are almost always received with 
comments that reduce them to the stereotype of their social function: 
'All right in Pigalle', 'It's the sort of photos they keep under the 
counter.' It is not surprising that this 'aesthetic', which bases apprecia- 
tion on informative, tangible or moral interest, can only refuse images of 
the trivial, or, which amounts to the same thing in terms of this logic, 
the triviality of the image: judgement nevergives the image of the object 
autonomy with respect to the object of the image. Of all the characteris- 
tics proper to the image, only colour (which Kant regarded as less pure 
than form) can prevent rejection of photographs of trivial things. Noth- 
ing is more alien to popular consciousness than the idea of an aesthetic 
pleasure that, to put it in Kantian terms, is independent of the charming 
of the senses. Thus judgements on the photographs most strongly re- 
jected on grounds of futility (pebbles, bark, wave) almost always end 
with the reservation that 'in colour, it might be pretty'; and some 
respondents even manage to formulate the maxim governing their atti- 
tude, when they declare that 'if the colours arc good, a colour photo- 
graph is always beautiful.' In short, Kant is indeed referring to popular 
taste when he writes: 'Taste that requires an added element of charm and 
emotion for its delight, not to speakof adopting this as the measure of 
its approval, has not yet emerged from barbarism.' 

Refusal of the meaningless (insignifiant) image, which has neither 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 43 

sense nor interest, or of the ambiguous image means refusing to treat it 
as a finality without purpose, as an image signifying itself, and therefore 
having no other referent than itself. The value of a photograph is mea- 
sured by the interest of the information it conveys, and by the clarity 
with which it fulfils this informative function, in short, its legibility, 
which itself varies with the legibility of its intention or function, the 
judgement it provokes being more or less favourable depending on the 
expressive adequacy of the signifier to the signified. It therefore contains 
the expectation of the title or caption which, by declaring the signifying 
intention, makes it possible to judge whether the realization signifies or 
illustrates it adequately. If formal explorations, in avant-garde theatre or 
non-figurative painting, or simply classical music, are disconcerting to 
working-class people, this is partly because they feel incapable of under- 
standing what these things must signify, insofar as they are signs. Hence 
the uninitiated may experience as inadequate and unworthy a satisfaction 
that cannot be grounded in a meaning transcendent to the object. Not 
knowing what the 'intention* is, they feel incapable of distinguishing a 
tour de force from clumsiness, telling a 'sincere' formal device from cyni- 
cal imposture. 

The confessions with which manual workers faced with modern pictures be- 
tray their exclusion (T don't understand what it means' or 'I like it but I 
don't understand it') contrast with the knowing silence of the bourgeois, 
who, though equally disconcerted, at least know that they have to refuse — 
or at least conceal — the naive expectation of expressiveness that is betrayed 
by the concern to 'understand' ('programme music' and the titles foisted on 
so many sonatas, concertos and symphonies are sufficient indication that 
this expectation is not an exclusively popular one). 

But formal refinement is also that which, by foregrounding form, i.e., 
the artist, his specific interests, his technical problems, his effects, his al- 
lusions and echoes, throws the thing itself into the background and pre- 
cludes direct communion with the beauty of the world — a beautiful 
child, a beautiful girl, a beautiful animal or a beautiful landscape. The 
representation is expected to be a feast for the eyes and, like still life, to 
'stir up memories and anticipations of feasts enjoyed and feasts to 
come.' 29 Nothing is more opposed to the celebration of the beauty and 
joy of the world that is looked for in the work of art, 'a choice which 
praises', than the devices of cubist or abstract painting, which are per- 
ceived and unanimously denounced as aggressions against the thing rep- 
resented, against the natural order and especially the human form. In 
short, however perfectly it performs its representative function, the work 
is only seen as fully justified if the thing represented is worthy of being 
represented, if the representative function is subordinated to a higher 
function, such as that of capturing and exalting a reality that is worthy of 

44 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

being made eternal. Such is the basis of the 'barbarous taste' to which the 
most antithetical forms of the dominant aesthetic always refer negatively 
and which only recognizes realist representation, in other words, a re- 
spectful, humble, submissive representation of objects designated by their 
beauty or their social importance. 

aesthetics, ethics and aestheticism When faced with legitimate 
works of art, people most lacking the specific competence apply to them 
the perceptual schemes of their own ethos, the very ones which structure 
their everyday perception of everyday existence. These schemes, giving 
rise to products of an unwilled, unselfconscious systematicity, are op- 
posed to the more or less fully stated principles of an aesthetic. ° The re- 
sult is a systematic 'reduction' of the things of art to the things of life, a 
bracketing of form in favour of 'human' content, which is barbarism par 
excellence from the standpoint of the pure aesthetic. l Everything takes 
place as if the emphasis on form could only be achieved by means of a 
neutralization of any kind of affective or ethical interest in the object of 
representation which accompanies (without any necessary cause-effect, re- 
lation) mastery of the means of grasping the distinctive properties which 
this particular form takes on in its relations with other forms (i.e., 
through reference to the universe of works of art and its history). 

Confronted with a photograph of an old woman's hands* the culturally 
most deprived express a more or less conventional emotion or an ethical 
complicity but never a specifically aesthetic judgement (other than a nega- 
tive one): 'Oh, she's got terribly defotmed hands 1 . . , . There's one thing I 
don't get (the left hand) — it's as if her left thumb was about to come away 
ftom her hand. Funny way of taking a photo. The old girl must've worked 
hard. IxDoks like she's got arthritis. She's definitely crippled, unless she's 
holding her hands like that (imitates gesture)? Yes, that's it, she's got her 
hand bent like that. Not like a duchess's hands or even a typist's! ... I 
really feel sorry seeing that poor old woman's hands, they're all knotted, 
you might say' (manual worker, Paris). With the lower middle classes, ex- 
altation of ethical virtues comes to the forefront ('hands worn out by 
toil'), sometimes tinged with populist sentimentality ('Poor old thing! Her 
hands must really hurt her. It really gives a sense of pain'); and sometimes 
even concern for aesthetic properties and references to painting make their 
appearance: 'It's as if it was a painting that had been photographed . , . 
Must be really beautiful as a painting' (clerical worker, Paris). That re- 
minds me of a picture I saw in an exhibition of Spanish paintings, a monk 
with his hands clasped in front of him and deformed fingers' (technician, 
Paris). 'The sort of hands you see in early Van Goghs, an old peasant 
woman or people eating potatoes' (junior executive, Paris). At higher levels 
in the social hierarchy, the remarks become increasingly abstract, with 
(other people's) hands, labour and old age functioning as allegories or sym- 
bols which serve as pretexts for general reflections on general problems: 

1'he Arutocracy of Culture / 45 

'Those are rhe hands of someone who has worked too much, doing very 
hard manual work . As a matter of fact it*s very unusual to see hands like 
rhar (engineer, Paris) 'These cwo hands unquestionably evoke a poor and 
unhappy old age' (teacher, provinces) An aestheticizing reference to paint- 
ing, sculpture or literature, more frequent, more varied and more subtly 
handled, resorts to rhe neutralization and distancing which bourgeois dis- 
course about the social world requires and performs. 'J find this a very 
beautiful photograph. It's the very symbol of toil. It puts me in mind of 
Flaubert's old servant woman . That woman's gesture, at once very hum- 
ble . Jt's terrible that work and poverty are so deforming' (engineer, 

A portrait of a heavily made-up woman, taken from an unusual angle 
with unusual lighting, provokes very similar reactions. Manual workers, and 
even more so craftsmen and small shopkeepers, react with horror and dis- 
gust. 'I wouldn't like that photo in my house, in my room. It isn't very 
nice to look at It's rather painful" (manual worker, provinces). Is she 
dead? Ghastly, enough to keep you awake at night , , , ghastly, horrible, I 
don't want to look at it* (shopkeeper, provinces) While most of the office 
workers and junior executives reject a photo which rhey can only describe 
as 'frightful' or 'unpleasant to look at', some of them try to characterize the 
technique: The photo is very well taken, very beautiful, but horrible' (cleri- 
cal worker T Paris). 'What gives the impression of something monstrous is 
the expression on rhe face of the man or woman who is the subject of the 
phoro and the angle from which it has been raken, that's to say looking up 
from below' (junior executive, Paris) Others appeal to aesthetic references, 
mainly drawn from the cinema: 'A rather fantastic sort of character, or at 
least rather bizarre . , , it could be a Dreyer characrer, Bergman at a pinch, 

46 / A Souai Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

The Lacq gasworks by night 

or perhaps even Eisenstein, in Ivan the Terrible . I like it a lot 1 (techni- 
cian, Parts). Most of the senior executives and members of the professions 
find the photograph 'beautiful' and 'expressive' and make reference not only 
to the films of Bergman, Orson Welles, Dreyer, and others, bur also to the 
theatre, invoking Hamlet, Macbeth or Racine's Athalie. 

When confronted wirh a photograph of the Lacq gas refinery, which is 
likely to disconcert realist expectations both by ks subject, an industrial 
complex, normally excluded from the world of legitimate representation, 
and by the treatment it receives (night photography), manual workers per- 
plexed, hesitate, and eventually, in most cases, admit defeat; *At first sight 
it's a construction in metal but I can't make head or tail of it, ft might be 
something used in an electric power station , , . I can't make out what it is, 
it's a mystery to me' (manual worker, provinces). 'Now, that one really 
bothers me, I haven't got anything ro say about it I can't sec what it 
could be, apart from the lighring. It isn't cm headlights, it wouldn'r be all 
straight lines like that. Down here I can see a railing and a goods lift, no, 
really, \ can't say' (manual worker, Paris), That's something todo wirh 
electronics, 1 don't know anything about that' (manual worker, Paris), 
Among small employers, who tend to be hostile to modern art experiments 
and, more generally, ro all art in which they cannot see the marks and 
traces of work, a sense of confusion often leads to simple refusal; That is of 
no interest, it may be all very fine, but not for me. It's always the same 
thing Personally that stuff leaves me cold' (craftsman, provinces) Tve 
tried to work out if it really is a photo. Perhaps it's a reproduction of a 
drawing done wirh a few pencil lines I wouldn't know what to do with 
a photo like that. Perhaps it suits modern tastes. Up and down with the 
pencil and they like it. And as for rhe photo and the photographer, rhey 
don't deserve any credit, they've done nothing at all. The artist did it all, 
he's the one who ought to rake the credit, he's rhe one who drew it* (shop- 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 47 

keeper, provinces). Office workers and junior executives, who are just as 
disconcerted as the manual workers and small employers, but are less in- 
clined to admit it than the former and less inclined than the latter to chal- 
lenge the legitimacy of what challenges them, less often decline to give a 
verdict: 32 *I like it as a photo . . . because it's all drawn out; they're just 
lines, it seems immense to me . , , A vast piece of scaffolding . . . It's just 
light, captured by the camera' (clerical worker, Paris). 'Buffet likes doing 
things like that' (technician, Paris). But only among members of the domi- 
nant class, who most often recognize the object represented, does judge- 
ment of form take on full autonomy vis-a-vis judgement of content ('It's 
inhuman but aesthetically beautiful because of the contrasts'), and the rep- 
resentation is apprehended as such, without reference to anything other 
than itself or realities of the same class ('abstract painting', 'avant-garde 
plays' etc.). 

The variations in the attitude to a very comparable object, a metal frame, 
provide a numerical proof of this: the proportion of respondents who think 
it could make a beautiful photo is 6 percent among manual workers and 
domestic servants, 9 percent among craftsmen and small shopkeepers, 9.5 
percent among the clerical workers and junior administrative executives, 24 
percent among the primary teachers and technicians, 24.5 percent in the 
dominant class — and 50 percent among the secondary and higher-education 
teachers. (One may assume that the reactions aroused by the architecture of 
the Beaubourg Centre obey the same principles.) 

The aestheticism which makes the artistic intention the basis of the 
'art of living' implies a sort of moral agnosticism, the perfect antithesis of 
the ethical disposition which subordinates art to the values of the art of 
living. The aesthetic intention can only contradict the dispositions of the 
ethos or the norms of the ethic which, at each moment, define the legiti- 
mate objects and modes of representation for the different social classes, 
excluding from the universe of the 'representable' certain realities and 
certain ways of representing them. Thus the easiest, and so the most fre- 
quent and most spectacular way to 'shock (epater) the bourgeois' by 
proving the extent of one's power to confer aesthetic status is to trans- 
gress ever more radically the ethical censorships (e.g., in matters of sex) 
which the other classes accept even within the area which the dominant 
disposition defines as aesthetic. Or, more subtly, it is done by conferring 
aesthetic status on objects or ways of representing them that are excluded 
by the dominant aesthetic of the time, or on objects that are given aes- 
thetic status by dominated 'aesthetics'. 

One only has to read the index of contents recently published by Art Vi- 
vant (1974), a 'vaguely modern review run by a clique of academics who 
are vaguely art historians' (as an avant-garde painter nicely put it), which 
occupies a sort of neutral point in the field of avant-garde art criticism be- 
tween F/ashart or Art Press and Artitude or Opus. In the list of features and 
titles one finds: Africa (one title: 'Art Must Be for All'), Architecture (two 

48 J A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

titles, including 'Architecture without an Architect'), Comic Strips (five 
titles, nine pages out of the forty-six in the whole index), Kids' Art, Kitsch 
(three titles, five pages), Photography (two titles, three pages), Street Art 
(fifteen titles, twenty-three pages, including 'Art in the Street?', 'Art in the 
Street, First Episode', 'Beauty in the Back-Streets; You Just Have to Know 
How to Look', 'A Suburb Sets the Pace'), Science-Fiction-Utopia (two titles, 
three pages), Underground (one title), Writing-laeograms-Grajfiti (two titles, 
four pages). The aim of inverting or transgressing, which is clearly mani- 
fested by this list, is necessarily contained within the limits assigned to 
it a contrario by the aesthetic conventions it denounces and by the need 
to secure recognition of the aesthetic nature of the transgression of the 
limits (i.e., recognition of its conformity to the norms of the transgressing 
group). Hence the almost Markovian logic of the choices, with, for the cin- 
ema, Antonioni, Chaplin, cinematheque, Eisenstein, eroticism-pornography, 
Fellini, Godard, Klein, Monroe, underground, Warhol. 

This commitment to symbolic transgression, which is often combined 
with political neutrality or revolutionary aestheticism, is the almost per- 
fect antithesis of petit-bourgeois moralism or of what Sartre used to call 
the revolutionary's 'seriousness'. 33 The ethical indifference which the aes- 
thetic disposition implies when it becomes the basis of the art of living is 
in fact the root of the ethical aversion to artists (or intellectuals) which 
manifests itself particularly vehemently among the declining and threat- 
ened fractions of the petite bourgeoisie (especially independent crafts- 
men and shopkeepers), who tend to express their regressive and 
repressive dispositions in all areas of practice (especially in educational 
matters and vis-a-vis students and student demonstrations), but also 
among the rising fractions of that class whose striving for virtue and 
whose deep insecurity render them very receptive to the phantasm of 

The pure disposition is so universally recognized as' legitimate that no 
voice is heard pointing out that the definition of art, and through it the 
art of living, is an object of struggle among the classes. Dominated life- 
styles {arts de vivre ), which have practically never received systematic ex- 
pression, are almost always perceived, even by their defenders, from the 
destructive or reductive viewpoint of the dominant aesthetic, so that 
their only options are degradation or self-destructive rehabilitation ('pop- 
ular culture'). This is why it is necessary to look to Proudhon 34 for a 
naively systematic expression of the petit-bourgeois aesthetic, which sub- 
ordinates art to the core values of the art of living and identifies the cyn- 
ical perversion of the artist's life-style as the source of the absolute 
primacy given to form: 

'Under the influence of property, the artist, depraved in his reason, dis- 
solute in his morals, venal and without dignity, is the impure image of ego- 
ism, The idea of justice and honesty slides over his heart without taking 
root, and of all the classes of society, the artist class is the poorest in 
strong souls and noble characters.' \ 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 49 

'Art for art's sake, as it has been called, not having its legitimacy 
within itself, being based on nothing, is nothing. It is debauchery of the 
heart and dissolution of the mind. Separated from right and duty, culti- 
vated and pursued as the highest thought of the soul and the supreme 
manifestation of humanity, art or the ideal, stripped of the greater part of 
itself, reduced to nothing more than an excitement of fantasy and the senses, 
is the source of sin, the origin of all servitude, the poisoned spring from 
which, according to the Bible, flow all the fornications and abominations 
of the earth . . . Art for art's sake, I say, verse for verse's sake, style for 
style's sake, form for form's sake, fantasy for fantasy's sake, all the diseases 
which like a plague of lice are gnawing away at our epoch, are vice in all 
its refinement, the quintessence of evil.' 3 

What is condemned is the autonomy of form and the artist's right to 
the formal refinements by which he claims mastery of what ought to be 
merely a matter of 'execution': 'I have no quarrel with nobility, or 
elegance, or pose, or style, or gesture, or any aspect of what constitutes 
the execution of a work of art and is the usual object of traditional 
criticism.' 37 

Dependent on demand in the choice of their objects, artists take their 
revenge in the execution: 'There are church painters, history painters, 
genre painters (in other words, painters of anecdotes or farces), portrait 
painters, landscape painters, animal painters, seascape painters, painters of 
Venus, painters of fantasy. One specializes in nudes, another in drapery, 
Then each one endeavours to distinguish himself by one of the means 
which contribute to the execution. One goes in for sketching, another 
for colour; this one attends to composition, that one to perspective, a 
third to costume or local colour; one shines through sentiment, another 
through his idealized or realistic figures; yet another redeems the futility 
of his subject by the fineness of his detail. Each strives to have his own 
trick, his own 'je ne sais quoi', a personal manner, and so, with the help 
of fashion, reputations are made and unmade.' 5 " 

In contrast to this decadent art cut off from social life, respecting nei- 
ther God nor man, an art worthy of the name must be subordinated to 
science, morality and justice. It must aim to arouse the moral sense, to 
inspire feelings of dignity and delicacy, to idealize reality, to substitute 
for the thing the ideal of the thing, by painting the true and not the real. 
In a word, it must educate. To do so, it must transmit not 'personal im- 
pressions' (like David in The Tennis-Court Oath, or Delacroix) but, like 
Courbet in Les Paysans de Flagey, reconstitute the social and historial 
truth which all may judge. ('Each of us only has to consult himself to be 
able, after brief consideration, to state a judgement on any work of 
art.') 39 And it would be a pity to conclude without quoting a eulogy of 
the small detached house which would surely be massively endorsed by 
the middle and working classes: 'I would give the Louvre, the Tuileries, 
Notre-Dame — and the Vendome column into the bargain — to live in my 
own home, in a little house of my oum design, where I would live alone, in 

50 / A Social Critique of the judgement of Taste 

the middle of a little plot of ground, a quarter of an acre or so, where I'd 
have water, shade, a lawn, and silence. And if I thought of putting a 
statue in it, it wouldn't be a Jupiter or an Apollo — those gentlemen are 
nothing to me — nor views of London, Rome, Constantinople or Venice- 
God preserve me from such places! I'd put there what I lack — mountains, 
vineyards, meadows, goats, cows, sheep, reapers and shepherds.' 

Specific perception, the specifically aesthetic perception of a work of art 
(in which there are of course degrees of accomplishment) is armed with 
a pertinence principle which is socially constituted and acquired. This 
principle of selection enables it to pick out and retain, from among the 
elements offered to the eye (e.g., leaves or clouds considered merely as 
indices or signals invested with a denotative function — 'It's a poplar', 
'There's going to be a storm'), all the stylistic traits — and only those — 
which, when relocated in the universe of stylistic possibilities, distin- 
guish a particular manner of treating the elements selected, whether 
clouds or leaves, that is, a style as a mode of representation expressing the 
mode of perception and thought that is proper to a period, a class or class 
fraction, a group of artists or a particular artist. No stylistic characteriza- 
tion of a work of art is possible without presupposing at least implicit 
reference to the compossible alternatives, whether simultaneous — to dis- 
tinguish it from its contemporaries — or successive — to contrast it with 
earlier or later works by the same or a different artist. Exhibitions devoted 
to an artist's whole oeuvre or to a genre (e.g., the still-life exhibition in 
Bordeaux in 1978) are the objective realization of the field of inter- 
changeable stylistic possibilities which is brought into play when one 
'recognizes' the singularities of the characteristic style of a work of art. As 
E. H. Gombrich demonstrates, Piet Mondrian's Broadway Boogie-Woogie 
only takes on its 'full meaning' in terms of a previous idea of Mondrian's 
work and of the expectations it favours. The 'impression of gay abandon' 
given by the play of bright, strongly contrasting patches of colour can 
only arise in a mind familiar with 'an art of straight lines and a few pri- 
mary colours in carefully balanced rectangles' and capable of perceiving 
the 'relaxed style of popular music' in the distance from the 'severity' 
which is expected. And as soon as one imagines this painting attributed 
to Gino Severini, who tries to express in some of his paintings 'the 
rhythm of dance music in works of brilliant chaos', it is clear that, mea- 
sured by this stylistic yardstick, Mondrian's picture would rather suggest 
the first Brandenburg Concerto. 

The aesthetic disposition, understood as the aptitude for perceiving 
and deciphering specifically stylistic characteristics, is thus inseparable 
from specifically artistic competence. The latter may be acquired by ex- 
plicit learning or simply by regular contact with works of art, especially 
those assembled in museums and galleries, where the diversity of their 

Piet Mondrian, Broadway Boogie boogie 

/■ n . J. 

2 *£3 

L *ii 


Piet Mondnan, 
Painting 1 

■ '4© 


•••ill t» 

Gino Scvermi, Dynamic Hieroglyphic of the Bat Tabarm 

52 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

original functions is neutralized by their being displayed in a place con- 
secrated to art, so that they invite pure interest in form. This practical 
mastery enables its possessor to situate each element of a universe of ar- 
tistic representations in a class denned in relation to the class composed 
of all the artistic representations consciously or unconsciously excluded. 
Thus, an awareness of the stylistic features which make up the stylistic 
originality of all the works of a period relative to those of another period, 
or, within this class, of the works of one school relative to another, or of 
the works of one artist relative to the works of his school or period, or 
even of an artist's particular period or work relative to his whole oeuvre, 
is inseparable from an awareness of the stylistic redundancies, i.e., the typ- 
ical treatments of the pictorial matter which define a style. In short, a 
grasp of the resemblances presupposes implicit or explicit reference to the 
differences, and vice versa. Attribution is always implicitly based on refer- 
ence to 'typical works', consciously or unconsciously selected because 
they present to a particularly high degree the qualities more or less ex- 
plicitly recognized as pertinent in a given system of classification. Every- 
thing suggests that, even among specialists, the criteria of pertinence 
which define the stylistic properties of 'typical works' generally remain 
implicit and that the aesthetic taxonomies implicitly mobilized to distin- 
guish, classify and order works of art never have the rigour which aes- 
thetic theories sometimes try to lend them. 

In fact, the simple placing which the amateur or specialist performs 
when he undertakes attribution has nothing in common with the genu- 
inely scientific intention of grasping the work's immanent reason and 
raison d'etre by reconstructing the perceived situation, the subjectively 
experienced problematic, which is nothing other than the space of the 
positions and self-positionings constituting the field and within which 
the artistic intention of the artist in question has defined itself, generally 
by opposition. The references which this reconstructing operation de- 
ploys have nothing to do with the kinds of semantic echo or affective 
correspondence which adorn celebratory discourse — they are the indis- 
pensable means of constructing the field of thematic or stylistic possibili- 
ties in relation to which, objectively and to some extent subjectively, the 
possibility selected by the artist presented itself. Thus, to understand why 
the early Romantic painters returned to primitive art, one would have to 
reconstitute the whole universe of reference of the pupils of David, with 
their long beards and Greek costumes, who, 'outdoing their master's cult 
of antiquity, wanted to go back to Homer, the Bible and Ossian, and 
condemned the style of classical antiquity itself as "rococo", "Van Loo" 
or "Pompadour".' 42 This would lead one back to the inextricably ethical 
and aesthetic alternatives — such as the identification of the naive with 
the pure and the natural — in terms of which their choices were made and 
which have nothing in common with the transhistorical oppositions be- 
loved of formalist aesthetics. 43 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 33 

But the celebrant's or devotee's intention is not that of understanding, 
and, in the ordinary routine of the cult of the work of art, the play of 
academic or urbane references has no other function than to bring the 
work into an interminable circuit of inter-legitimation, so that a refer- 
ence to Jan Breughel's Bouquet of Flowers lends dignity to Jean-Michel Pi- 
cart's Bouquet of Flowers with Parrot, just as, in another context, reference 
to the latter can, being less common, serve to enhance the former. This 
play of cultured allusions and analogies endlessly pointing to other anal- 
ogies, which, like the cardinal oppositions in mythical or ritual systems, 
never have to justify themselves by stating the basis of the relating which 
they perform, weaves around the works a complex web of factitious expe- 
riences, each answering and reinforcing all the others, which creates the 
enchantment of artistic contemplation. It is the source of the 'idolatry' to 
which Proust refers, which leads one to find 'an actress's robe or a society 
woman's dress beautiful . . . not because the cloth is beautiful but be- 
cause it is the cloth painted by Moreau or described by Balzac' 

Analogy, functioning as a circular mode of thought, makes it possible 
to tour the whole area of art and luxury without ever leaving it. Thus 
Chateau Margaux wine can be described with the same words as are used 
to describe the chateau, just as others will evoke Proust apropos of 
Monet or Cesar Franck, which is a good way of talking about neither: 
'The house is in the image of the vintage. Noble, austere, even a little 
solemn. . . . Chateau Margaux has the air of an ancient temple devoted to 
the cult of wine. , . . Vineyard or dwelling, Margaux disdains all embel- 
lishments. But just as the wine has to be served before it unfolds all its 
charms, so the residence waits for the visitor to enter before it reveals its 
own. In each case the same words spring to one's lips: elegance, distinc- 
tion, delicacy and that subtle satisfaction given by something which has 
received the most attentive and indeed loving care for generations. A 
wine long matured, a house long inhabited: Margaux the vintage and 
Margaux the chateau are the product of two equally rare things: rigour 
and time, ,45 

distance from necessity To explain the correlation between educa- 
tional capital and the propensity or at least the aspiration to appreciate a 
work 'independently of its content', as the culturally most ambitious re- 
spondents put it, and more generally the propensity to make the 'gratui- 
tous' and 'disinterested' investments demanded by legitimate works, it is 
not sufficient to point to the fact that schooling provides the linguistic 
tools and the references which enable aesthetic experience to be expressed 
and to be constituted by being expressed. What is in fact affirmed in this 
relationship is the dependence of the aesthetic disposition on the past 
and present material conditions of existence which are the precondition 
of both its constitution and its application and also of the accumulation 
of a cultural capital (whether or not educationally sanctioned) which can 

54 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

only be acquired by means of a sort of withdrawal from economic neces- 
sity. The aesthetic disposition which tends to bracket off the nature and 
function of the object represented and to exclude any 'naive' reaction — 
horror at the horrible, desire for the desirable, pious reverence for the sa- 
cred—along with all purely ethical responses, in order to concentrate 
solely upon the mode of representation, the style, perceived and appre- 
ciated by comparison with other styles, is one dimension of a total rela- 
tion to the world and to others, a life-style, in which the effects of 
particular conditions of existence are expressed in a 'misrecognizable' 
form.' 1 These conditions of existence, which are the precondition for all 
learning of legitimate culture, whether implicit and diffuse, as domestic 
cultural training generally is, or explicit and specific, as in scholastic 
training, are characterized by the suspension and removal of economic 
necessity and by objective and subjective distance from practical urgen- 
cies, which is the basis of objective and subjective distance from groups 
subjected to those determinisms. 

To be able to play the games of culture with the playful seriousness 
which Plato demanded, a seriousness without the 'spirit of seriousness', 
one has to belong to the ranks of those who have been able, not necessar- 
ily to make their whole existence a sort of children's game, as artists do, 
but at least to maintain for a long time, sometimes a whole lifetime, a 
child's relation to the world. (All children start life as baby bourgeois, in 
a relation of magical power over others and, through them T over the 
world, but they grow out of it sooner or later.) This is clearly seen when, 
by an accident of social genetics, into the well-policed world of intellec- 
tual games there comes one of those people (one thinks of Rousseau or 
Chernyshevsky) who bring inappropriate stakes and interests into the 
games of culture; who get so involved in the game that they abandon the 
margin of neutralizing distance that the Mush (belief in the game) de- 
mands; who treat intellectual struggles, the object of so many pathetic 
manifestos, as a simple question of right and wrong, life and death. This 
is why the logic of the game has already assigned them roles — eccentric 
or boor — which they will play despite themselves in the eyes of those 
who know how to stay within the bounds of the intellectual illusion and 
who cannot see them any other way. 

The aesthetic disposition, a generalized capacity to neutralize ordinary 
urgencies and to bracket off practical ends, a durable inclination and ap- 
titude for practice without a practical function, can only be constituted 
within an experience of the world freed from urgency and through the 
practice of activities which are an end in themselves, such as scholastic 
exercises or the contemplation of works of art. In other words, it presup- 
poses the distance from the world (of which the 'role distance' brought 
to light by Erving Goffman is a particular case) which is the basis of the 
bourgeois experience of the world, Contrary to what certain mechanistic 
theories would suggest, even in its most specifically artistic dimension 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 55 

the pedagogic action of the family and the school operates at least as 
much through the economic and social conditions which are the pre- 
condition of its operation as through the contents which it inculcates. 
The scholastic world of regulated games and exercise for exercise' sake is, 
at least in this respect, less remote than it might appear from the 'bour- 
geois' world and the countless 'disinterested' and 'gratuitous' acts which 
go to make up its distinctive rarity, such as home maintenance and deco- 
ration, occasioning a daily squandering of care, time and labour (often 
through the intermediary of servants), walking and tourism, movements 
without any other aim than physical exercise and the symbolic appro- 
priation of a world reduced to the status of a landscape, or ceremonies 
and receptions, pretexts for a display of ritual luxuries, decors, conversa- 
tions and finery, not to mention, of course, artistic practices and enjoy- 
ments. It is not surprising that bourgeois adolescents, who are both 
economically privileged and (temporarily) excluded from the reality of 
economic power, sometimes express their distance from the bourgeois 
world which they cannot really appropriate by a refusal of complicity 
whose most refined expression is a propensity towards aesthetics and aes- 
theticism. In this respect they share common ground with the women of 
the bourgeoisie, who, being partially excluded from economic activity, 
find fulfilment in stage-managing the decor of bourgeois existence, when 
they are not seeking refuge or revenge in aesthetics. 

Economic power is first and foremost a power to keep economic neces- 
sity at arm's length. This is why it universally asserts itself by the destruc- 
tion of riches, conspicuous consumption, squandering, and every form of 
gratuitous luxury. Thus, whereas the court aristocracy made the whole of 
life a continuous spectacle, the bourgeoisie has established the opposition 
between what is paid for and what is free, the interested and the disin- 
terested, in the form of the opposition, which Weber saw as characteriz- 
ing it, between place of work and place of residence, working days and 
holidays, the outside (male) and the inside (female), business and senti- 
ment, industry and art, the world of economic necessity and the world of 
artistic freedom that is snatched, by economic power, from that necessity. 

Material or symbolic consumption of works of art constitutes one of 
the supreme manifestations of ease, in the sense both of objective leisure 
and subjective facility. The detachment of the pure gaze cannot be sepa- 
rated from a general disposition towards the 'gratuitous' and the 'disin- 
terested', the paradoxical product of a negative economic conditioning 
which, through facility and freedom, engenders distance vis-a-vis neces- 
sity. At the same time, the aesthetic disposition is defined, objectively 
and subjectively, in relation to other dispositions. Objective distance 
from necessity and from those trapped within it combines with a con- 
scious distance which doubles freedom by exhibiting it. As the objective 
distance from necessity grows, life-style increasingly becomes the product 
of what Weber calls a 'stylization of life', a systematic commitment 

56 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

which orients and organizes the most diverse practices — the choice of a 
vintage or a cheese or the decoration of a holiday home in the country. 
This affirmation of power over a dominated necessity always implies a 
claim to a legitimate superiority over those who, because they cannot as- 
sert the same contempt for contingencies in gratuitous luxury and con- 
spicuous consumption, remain dominated by ordinary interests and 
urgencies. The tastes of freedom can only assert themselves as such in re- 
lation to the tastes of necessity, which are thereby brought to the level of 
the aesthetic and so defined as vulgar. This claim to aristocracy is less 
likely to be contested than any other, because the relation of the 'pure', 
'disinterested' disposition to the conditions which make it possible, i.e., 
the material conditions of existence which are rarest because most freed 
from economic necessity, has every chance of passing unnoticed. The 
most 'classifying' privilege thus has the privilege of appearing to be the 
most natural one. 

thetic disposition is one dimension of a distant, self-assured relation to 
the world and to others which presupposes objective assurance and dis- 
tance. It is one manifestation of the system of dispositions produced \>y 
the social conditionings associated with a particular class of conditions of 
existence when they take the paradoxical form of the greatest freedom 
conceivable, at a given moment, with respect to the constraints of eco- 
nomic necessity. But it is also a distinctive expression of a privileged po- 
sition in social space whose distinctive value is objectively established in 
its relationship to expressions generated from different conditions. Like 
every sort of taste, it unites and separates. Being the product of the con- 
ditionings associated with a particular class of conditions of existence, it 
unites all those who are the product of similar conditions while distin- 
guishing them from all others. And it distinguishes in an essential way, 
since taste is the basis of all that one has — people and things — and all 
that one is for others, whereby one classifies oneself and is classified by 

Tastes (i.e., manifested preferences) are the practical affirmation of an 
inevitable difference. It is no accident that, when they have to be justi- 
fied, they are asserted purely negatively, by the refusal of other tastes. 49 In 
matters of taste, more than anywhere else, all determination is negation;* 
and tastes are perhaps first and foremost distastes, disgust provoked by 
horror or visceral intolerance ('sick-making') of the tastes of others. 'De 
gustibus non est disputandum': not because 'tous les gouts sont dans la 
nature', but because each taste feels itself to be natural — and so it almost 
is, being a habitus — which amounts to rejecting others as unnatural and 
therefore vicious. Aesthetic intolerance can be terribly violent. Aversion 
to different life-styles is perhaps one of the strongest barriers between the 
classes; class endogamy is evidence of this. The most intolerable thing for 
those who regard themselves as the possessors of legitimate culture is the 

The A ristocracy of Culture / 57 

sacrilegious reuniting of castes which caste dictates shall be separated. 
This means that the games of artists and aesthetes and their struggles for 
the monopoly of artistic legitimacy are less innocent than they seem. At 
stake in every struggle over art there is also the imposition of an art of 
living, that is, the transmutation of an arbitrary way of living inco the 
legitimate way of life which casts every other way of living into arbitrari- 
ness.^ 1 The artist's life-style is always a challenge thrown at the bourgeois 
life-style, which it seeks to condemn as unreal and even absurd, by a sort 
of practical demonstration of the emptiness of the values and powers it 
pursues. The neutralizing relation to the world which defines the aes- 
thetic disposition potentially implies a subversion of the spirit of serious- 
ness required by bourgeois investments. Like the visibly ethical 
judgements of those who lack the means to make art the basis of their art 
of living, to see the world and other people through literary reminis- 
cences and pictorial references, the 'pure' and purely aesthetic judgements 
of the artist and the aesthete spring from the dispositions of an ethos; 
but because of the legitimacy which they command so long as their rela- 
tionship to the dispositions and interests of a group defined by strong 
cultural capital and weak economic capital remains unrecognized, they 
provide a sort of absolute reference point in the necessarily endless play of 
mutually self-relativizing tastes. By a paradoxical reversal, they thereby 
help to legitimate the bourgeois claim to 'natural distinction' as differ- 
ence made absolute. 

Objectively and subjectively aesthetic stances adopted in matters like 
cosmetics, clothing or home decoration are opportunities to experience 
or assert one's position in social space, as a rank to be upheld or a dis- 
tance to be kept. It goes without saying that the social classes are not 
equally inclined and prepared to enter this game of refusal and counter- 
refusal; and that the strategies aimed at transforming the basic disposi- 
tions of a life-style into a system of aesthetic principles, objective 
differences into elective distinctions, passive options (constituted exter- 
nally by the logic of the distinctive relationships) into conscious, elective 
choices are in fact reserved for members of the dominant class, indeed the 
very top bourgeoisie, and for artists, who as the inventors and profes- 
sionals of the 'stylization of life* are alone able to make their art of living 
one of the fine arts. By contrast, the entry of the petite bourgeoisie into 
the game of distinction is marked, inter alia, by the anxiety of exposing 
oneself to classification by offering to the taste of others such infallible 
indices of personal taste as clothes or furniture, even a simple pair of 
armchairs, as in one of Nathalie Sarraute's novels. As for the working 
classes, perhaps their sole function in the system of aesthetic positions is 
to serve as a foil, a negative reference point, in relation to which all aes- 
thetics define themselves, by successive negations. 53 Ignoring or ignorant 
of manner and style, the 'aesthetic' (in itself) of the working classes and 
culturally most deprived fractions of the middle classes defines as 'nice', 
'pretty 1 , 'lovely' (rather than 'beautiful') things that are already defined as 

58 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

such in the 'aesthetic' of calendars and postcards: a sunset, a little girl 
playing with a cat, a folk dance, an old master, a first communion, a chil- 
dren's procession. The striving towards distinction comes in with petit- 
bourgeois aestheticism, which delights in all the cheap substitutes for 
chic objects and practices — driftwood and painted pebbles, cane and raf- 
fia, 'art' handicrafts and art photography. 

This aestheticism defines itself against the 'aesthetic' of the working 
classes, refusing their favourite subjects, the themes of 'views', such as 
mountain landscapes, sunsets and woods, or souvenir photos, such as the 
first communion, the monument or the old master (see figure 2). In 
photography, this taste prefers objects that are close to those of the popu- 
lar aesthetic but semi-neutralized by more or less explicit reference to a 
pictorial tradition or by a visible stylistic intention combining the 
human picturesque (weaver at his loom, tramps quarrelling, folk dance) 
with gratuitous form (pebbles, rope, tree bark). 

Technicians seem to offer the purest form of 'middle-brow' taste. Their 
tastes in photography locate them centrally in the structure of the middle 
classes (see figure 2), with the craftsmen, small shopkeepers, clerical work- 
ers and junior executives inclining towards the working class and the pri- 
mary teachers and new petit bourgeois inclining towards the upper classes. 
They are particularly drawn to the objects most typical of middle-brow pho- 
tography — the weaver, the still life — whereas the new petit bourgeois prefer 
objects which they see as lying outside the repertoire of the traditional aes- 
thetic and therefore more 'original' (rope, cabbages), and also those belong- 
ing to the 'social picturesque' (tramps quarrelling). 

It is significant that this middle-brow art par excellence finds one of its 
preferred subjects in one of the spectacles most characteristic of middle- 
brow culture (along with the circus, light opera and bull-fights), the folk 
dance (which is particularly appreciated by skilled workers and foremen, 
junior executives, clerical and commercial employees) (C.S. VII). Like 
the photographic recording of the social picturesque, whose populist ob- 
jectivism distances the lower classes by constituting them as an object of 
contemplation or even commiseration or indignation, the spectacle of 
the 'people' making a spectacle of itself, as in folk dancing, is an opportu- 
nity to experience the relationship of distant proximity, in the form of 
the idealized vision purveyed by aesthetic realism and populist nostalgia, 
which is a basic element in the relationship of the petite bourgeoisie to 
the working or peasant classes and their traditions. But this middle-brow 
aestheticism in turn serves as a foil to the most alert members of the new 
middle-class fractions, who reject its favoured subjects, and to the second- 
ary teachers whose aestheticism (the aestheticism of consumers, since 
they are relatively infrequent practitioners of photography and the other 
arts) purports to be able to treat any object aesthetically, with the excep- 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 59 


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60 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

tion of those so constituted by the middle-brow art of the petite bour- 
geoisie (such as the weaver and the folk dance, which are deemed merely 
'interesting'). 54 These would-be aesthetes demonstrate by their distinc- 
tive refusals that they possess thepractical mastery of the relationships 
between objects and groups which is the basis of all judgements of the 
type 'Qa fait' ('It looks . . .*) (*C a Bttt petit-bourgeois', 'Ca fait nouveau 
riche' etc.), without being able to go so far as to ascribe beauty to the 
most marked objects of the popular aesthetic (first communion) or the 
petit-bourgeois aesthetic (mother and child, folk dance) which the rela- 
tions of structural proximity spontaneously lead them to detest. 

Explicit aesthetic choices are in fact often constituted in opposition to 
the choices of the groups closest in social space, with whom the compe- 
tition is most direct and most immediate, and more precisely, no doubt, 
in relation to those choices most clearly marked by the intention (per- 
ceived as pretension) of marking distinction vis-a-vis lower groups, such 
as, for intellectuals, the primary teachers' Brassens, Jean Ferrat or Ferre. 
Thus the song, as a cultural property which (like photography) is almost 
universally accessible and genuinely common (since hardly anyone is not 
exposed at one moment or another to the 'successes' of the day), calls for 
particular vigilance from those who intend to mark their difference. The 
intellectuals, artists and higher-education teachers seem to hesitate be- 
tween systematic refusal of what can only be, at best, a middle-brow art, 
and a selective acceptance which manifests the universality of their cul- 
ture and their aesthetic disposition.^ For their part, the employers and 
professionals, who have little interest in the 'intellectual* song, indicate 
their distance from ordinary songs by rejecting with disgust the most 
popular and most 'vulgar' singers, such as Les Compagnons de la Chan- 
son, Mireille Mathieu, Adamo or Sheila, and making an exception for the 
oldest and most consecrated singers (like Edith Piaf or Charles Trenet) 
or those closest to operetta and bel canro. But it is the middle classes who 
find in song (as in photography) an opportunity to manifest their artistic 
pretension by refusing the favourite singers of the working classes, such 
as Mireille Mathieu, Adamo, Charles Aznavour or Tino Rossi, and de- 
claring their preference for the singers who endeavour to dignify this 
'minor' genre. That is why the primary teachers distinguish themselves 
most clearly from the other fractions of the petite bourgeoisie in this 
area, where, more easily than in the domain of legitimate art, they can 
invest their academic dispositions and assert their own taste in the choice 
of singers who offer populist poetry in the primary-school tradition, such 
as Jacques Douai or Brassens (who was on the syllabus of the Saint- 
Cloud entrance examination a few years ago). 36 

In addition to the data provided by the survey question, use was also made 
of the findings of a survey by the opinion research department of the 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 61 

French broadcasting service (ORTF) (C.S. XIX) and of thirty in-depth in- 
terviews designed to grasp the constellation of preferences and refusals in 
conditions as close as possible to ordinary conversation. These interviews 
confirmed that, as the ORTF survey also shows, the more strongly a singer 
is preferred by the less cultivated, the more he or she is refused by the most 
cultivated — whose tastes in this area are almost exclusively expressed in re- 
jections. These refusals, almost always expressed in the mode of distaste, arc 
often accompanied by pitying or indignant remarks about the correspond- 
ing tastes ('I can't understand how anyone can like that!'). 

Similarly, one finds that the declining petite-bourgeoisie systematically re- 
jects the virtues that the new petite bourgeoisie most readily claims for it- 
self (witty, refined, stylish, artistic, imaginative); whereas the latter signals 
its aesthetic pretension by a refusal of the most typically 'bourgeois* config- 
urations and by a concern to go against common judgements, in which aes- 
thetic commitments figure prominently. Thus, when asked to state the ideal 
qualities of a friend or a domestic interior, they produce motley combina- 
tions such as: 'artistic, sociable, amusing, comfortable, easy to maintain, 
imaginative' (sales representative, Paris), 'dynamic, pragmatic, stylish, stud- 
ied, warm, imaginative' (gallery director, Lille), 'dynamic, refined, prag- 
matic, comfortable, harmonious, cosy' (radio presenter, Lille). It is again a 
similar process that leads the members of the professions to distinguish 
themselves from newcomers to the bourgeoisie by rejecting the qualities of 
ambition and upward mobility, such as 'pragmatic', 'dynamic' (often chosen 
by managerial executives), or the most 'pretentious' adjectives, such as 'styl- 
ish' or 'refined', which are much favoured by the new petite bourgeoisie. 

It may also be assumed that the affirmation of the omnipotence of the 
aesthetic gaze found among higher-education teachers, the group most 
inclined to say that all the objects mentioned could make a beautiful 
photograph and to profess their recognition of modern art or of the artis- 
tic status of the photograph, stems much more from a self-distinguishing 
intention than from a true aesthetic universalism. This has not escaped 
the most knowing avant-garde producers, who carry sufficient authority 
to challenge, if need be, the very dogma of the omnipotence of art,^ 7 and 
are in a position to recognize this faith as a defensive manoeuvre to avoid 
self-exposure by reckless refusals: 'Who would say this: "When I look at 
a picture, I'm not interested in what it represents"? Nowadays, the sort 
of people who don't know much about art. Saying that is typical of 
someone who hasn't any idea about art. Twenty years ago, I'm not even 
sure that twenty years ago the abstract painters would have said that; I 
don't think so. It's exactly what a guy says when he hasn't a clue: "I'm 
not one of these old fogies, I know what counts is whether it's pretty" ' 
(avant-garde painter, age 35). They alone, at all events, can afford the au- 
dacious imposture of refusing all refusals by recuperating, in parody or 
sublimation, the very objects refused by the lower-degree aestheticism. 
The 'rehabilitation' of 'vulgar' objects is more risky, but also more 'prof- 
itable', the smaller the distance in social space or time, and the 'horrors' 

62 / A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 

of popular kitsch are easier to 'recuperate' than those of petit-bourgeois 
imitation, just as the 'abominations' of bourgeois taste can begin to be 
found 'amusing' when they are sufficiently dated to cease to be 'compro- 

Suffice it to point out that, in addition to those subjects which had already 
been constituted as aesthetic at the time of the survey, either by a pictorial 
tradition (e.g., the metal frame of Leger or Gromaire, the tramps quarrel- 
ling, a variant of an old theme of realist painting often taken up in photog- 
taphy, or the butcher's stall), or by the photographic tradition (e.g., the 
weaver, the folk dance, the bark), most of the 'banal' subjects have subse- 
quently been constituted aesthetically by one avant-garde painter or another 
(for example, the sunset over the sea, by Richer, who paints typically ro- 
mantic landscapes from photographs, or Long and Fulton, English painters 
who make 'conceptual' landscape photographs, or even Land Art; or the car 
crash, by Andy Warhol; or the tramps 7 quarrel, with the 'tramps sleeping in 
the Bowery' of the American hyper-realists; or the first communion, by Bol- 
tanski, who has even given artistic status to the family album etc.). The 
only 'unrecuperated' and, for the moment, 'irrecuperable' subjects are the fa- 
vourite themes of first-degree aestheticism, the weaver at his loom, the folk 
dance, the tree-bark, and the woman suckling a child. They are too close to 
favour the flaunting of an absolute power of aesthetic constitution; and be- 
cause they do not allow distance to be manifested, they are more liable to 
be mistaken for 'first-degree' intentions. Reappropriation is that much more 
difficult when the aesthetic*in-itself which it works on clearly manifests rec- 
ognition of the dominant aesthetic so that the distinctive deviation is liable 
to go unnoticed. 

The artist agrees with the 'bourgeois' in one respect: he prefers naivety 
to 'pretentiousness'. The essential merit of the 'common people' is that 
they have none of the pretensions to art (or power) which inspire the 
ambitions of the 'petit bourgeois'. Their indifference tacitly acknowl- 
edges the monopoly. That is why, in the mythology of artists and intel- 
lectuals, whose outflanking and double-negating strategies sometimes 
lead them back to 'popular' tastes and opinions, the 'people' so often play 
a role not unlike that of the peasantry in the conservative ideologies of 
the declining aristocracy. 

In fact, their 'pretension' leaves the petit bourgeois particularly disarmed in 
the less legitimate or not-yet legitimate domains which the cultural 'elite' 
abandon to them, whether in photography or in cinema, in which their am- 
bitions are often expressed (as is shown, for example, in the fact that the 
gap between the petite bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie is much less wide 
regarding knowledge of cinema directors than of composers). The new-style 
petit bourgeois, who, confronted with objectively ranked judgements, are 
able to choose the 'right' answer, are almost as disarmed as the working 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 63 

classes when faced with an opportunity for aesthetic constitution of an ob- 
ject (not a single small art-dealer says that a car accident can make a beauti- 
ful photo, and the scrap-yard arouses similar responses). 

Cultural Pedigree 

While variations in educational capital are always very closely related to 
variations in competence, even in areas, like cinema or jazz, which are 
neither taught nor directly assessed by the educational system, the fact 
remains that, at equivalent levels of educational capital, differences in so- 
cial origin (whose 'effecrs' are already expressed in differences in educa- 
tional capital) are associated with important differences in competence. 
These differences become all the more striking (except at the highest 
educational levels, where over-selection tends to neutralize differences of 
trajectory), firstly, when one appeals less to a strict, and strictly assessable, 
competence and more to a sort of familiarity with culture; and, secondly, 
as one moves from the most 'scholastic' and 'classical' areas of culture to 
less legitimate and more 'outlandish' areas of the 'extra-curricular' cul- 
ture, which is not taught in schools but is valued in the academic market 
and can often yield high symbolic profit. The relative weight of educa- 
tional capital in the system of explanatory factors can even be much 
weaker than that of social origin when the respondents are only required 
to express a status-induced familiarity with legitimate or soon-to-be le- 
gitimated culture, a paradoxical relationship made up of that mixture of 
self-assurance and ( relative) ignorance, expressing true bourgeois rights, 
which are measured by seniority. 

At equal educational levels, the proportion who say they know at least 
twelve of the musical works mentioned increases more "sharply than the pro- 
portion who can attribute at least twelve of them to their composers, as 
one moves from the working class to the upper class (and the gap is very 
narrow among graduates) (see table 4). The same logic governs the differ- 
ences by sex, except that they are less marked. Whereas, as regards com- 
posers, no differences are found between the sexes among individuals of the 
same class, strong differences appear in favour of women as regards familiar- 
ity with works, especially in the middle and upper classes (in the working 
class, this knowledge is very limited in both sexes); in the two most femi- 
nine occupational categories — the medical and social services and secre- 
taries — all the persons questioned claimed to know at least three of the 
works. This difference in the experiential or stated relationship to music is 
no doubt partly explained by the fact that the traditional division of labour 
assigns to women familiarity with the things of art and literature. 

The differences linked to social origin are also very strong as regards 
knowledge of film directors, which, at equal educational levels, rises with 
social origin. So too does the proportion who assert that 'ugly' or trivial 

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|( C a beautiful photograph, Needless to say, corresponding to 
Ljects can _odes of acquisition, there are differences in the nature of the 

AC^S id The ^ crcnces '' n ^ t0 soc ' a ' or '8' n tcn ^ t0 increase as 
«rt,rks P rf wav from the academic curriculum, from literature to painting 
ode fl> oVC ? ]JlU sj c and a fortiori jazz or avant-garde art. 
or ^"*J tf suf vC y snow cd that students of working class or middle-class 

A n ca , ^ scores similar to those of students of bourgeois origin in 
origi n • , ^ f c |j back as the test moved towards 'extra-curricular' cul- 
c\^ ci ijQjjj avant-garde theatre and Paris 'boulevard' ( middle-brow) the- 
iufc. ■*" r n( j s an entirely analogous relation here between the artistic 
*^j and the secondary teachers (or even the art reachers, who— as is 
P^ u . ano ther survey now being analysed— especially when they are of 
1/ p. clasPt m iddle-class origin, mostly have very 'classical' tastes and 
*° f ' u ch closer to the teachers than to the artists). 

Those who have acquired the bulk of their cultural capital in and for 

, j nave m ore 'classical', safer cultural investments than those who have 
-reived a large cultural inheritance. For example, whereas the members of 
the dominant class with rhe highest qualifications (the agrqation or a di- 

loma from a grarxk hie) never mention certain works or certain painters 
typical of middle-brow culture, such as Buffet or Utrillo, have considerable 
knowledge of composers, and prefer the Well-Tempered Clavier or the Fire- 
bird Suite, the highly educated members of the working and middle classes 
more often make choices which indicate their respect for a more 'scholastic' 
culture (Goya, Leonardo, Breughel, Watteau, Raphael), and a significant 
proportion of them concur with the opinion that 'paintings are nice but 
difficult 1 . By contrast, those who originate from the dominant class know 
more works and more often choose works further from 'scholastic' culture 
(Braque, Concerto for the Left Hand). Similarly, those members of the estab- 
lished petite bourgeoisie (craftsmen, shopkeepers, clerical and commercial 
employees, junior executives) who have relatively low educational capital 
(BEPC or below) make choices clearly marked by their trajectory. Thus, 
those who are rising socially show their respect for legitimate culture in 
various ways (e.g., they are more likely to agree that 'paintings are nice but 
difficult') and choose works typical of middle-brow (Buffet, Utrillo) or 
< v «n popular taste (Blue Danube). However, those whose fathers belonged 

| e upper classes manifest, at equivalent levels of educational capital, 
* tw familiarity with musical works (although they are no more familiar 
press e COm P° sers ' names), just as they more often say they like the Im- 
con '° niStS ' v ' sit museums morc °ft cri ar >d more often choose academically 
J^™s( Raphael or Leonardo). 

Com AND manner OF acquisition Cultural (or linguistic) 
inn bo , nce ' wn ' cn ' s acquired in relation to a particular field f unction- 
c Onditj ^ 3 S ° UrCC °^ ' ncu ' cat ' on in ^ as a market, remains defined by its 
uul 12at ° ns of a cquisirion. These conditions, perpetuated in the mode of 
like j '■*■< in a given relationship to culture or language— function 

itiarl^ , °' rf ade-mark', and, by linking that competence to a particular 
P to define the value of its products in the various markers. In 

other words, what arc grasped through indicators such as eduaridj 
level or social origin or, more precisely, in the structure of the relarjj 
ship between them, arc also different modes of production of the m 
vated habitus, which engender differences not only in the compete™ 
acquired but also in the manner of applying them. These difference! 
manner constitute a set of secondary properties, revealing different , 
ditions of acquisition and predisposed to receive very different valu( 
the various markets. 1 

Knowing that 'manner' is a symbolic manifestation whose meanj 
and value depend as much on the perceivers as on the producer, oneil 
see how it is that the manner of using symbolic goods, especially m 
regarded as the attributes of excellence, constitutes one of the key ml 
ers of 'class' and also the ideal weapon in strategies of distinction, thaffl 
as Proust put it, 'the infinitely varied art of marking distances'. The id 
ogy of natural taste contrasts two modaliries of cultural competence* 
its use, and, behind them, two modes of acquisition of culture™ Ti 
early, imperceptible learning, performed within the family from the.; 
liest days of life and extended by a scholastic learning which presupa 
and completes it, differs from belated, methodical learning not so 
in the depth and durability of its effects— as the ideology of cultural- 
neer' would have it— as in the modality of the relationship to lant 
and culture which it simultaneously tends to inculcate. It confer 
self-certainty which accompanies the certainty of possessing cultur 
gitimacy, and the ease which is the touchstone of excellence; it pre 
the paradoxical relationship to culture made up of self confidence 
(relative) ignorance and of casualness amid familiarity, which bourgj 
families hand down to their offspring as if it were an heirloom. 

The competence of the 'connoisseur', an unconscious mastery 
instruments of appropriation which derives from slow familiar^ 
and is the basis of familiarity with works, is an 'art', a practical ma 
which, like an art of thinking or an art of living, cannot be transmi| 
solely by precept or prescription. Learning it presupposes the equtv 
of the prolonged contact between disciple and master in a fraditl 
education, i.e., repeated contact with cultural works and cultured 
And just as the apprentice or disciple can unconsciously acquire the j 
of the art, including those that are not consciously known to the 
himself, by means of a self-abandonment, excluding analysis and sek 
of the elements of the exemplary conduct, so too the art-lover, in a ^ 
surrendering himself to the work, can internalize its principles or J 
struction, without these ever being brought to his consciousness andj 
mulated or formulable as such; and this is what makes all the dinx^ 
between the theory of art and the experience of the connoisseur, wti 
generally incapable of stating the principles of his judgements. By j 
trast, all institutionalized learning presupposes a degree of ration* 
tion, which leaves its mark on the relationship to the goods consufl 
The sovereign pleasure of the aesthete dispenses with concepts. It is] 

j much to the thoughtless pleasure of the 'naive' (glorified in ide- 

P o5C through the myth of childhood and the innocent eye) as ro the 

o$& jjy pleasureless thought of the petit bourgeois and the 'parvenu', 

s u P' always exposed to those forms of aesthetic perversion which put 

ledge above experience and sacrifice contemplation of the work to 

. sion of the work, aislhesis to askush, like film-buffs who know 

thine tnere ' s t0 ' cnow a ' 30ut ^' ms ^ ^ avc not seen * ^ oc ^ at 
C rducarional system ever entirely fulfils irs rational function: the es- 

1 tial part of wri at schools communicate is again acquired incidentally, 
* h as the system of classification which the school system inculcates 
zh the order in which it inculcates knowledge or through the po- 
sitions f j ts own organization (the hierarchy of disciplines, sec- 
f : on s exercises etc.) or its operation (mode of assessment, rewards and 
punishments etc.). But, in order to transmit at all, it has to perform a 
degree of rationalization of what it transmits, Thus, for example, in place 
of practical schemes of classification, which are always partial and linked 
to practical contexts, it puts explicit, standardized taxonomies, fixed once 
and for all in the form of synoptic schemas or dualistic typologies (e.g., 
'dassicai'/'romantic'), which are expressly inculcated and therefore con- 
served in the memory as knowledge that can be reproduced in virtually 
identical form by all the agents subjected to its action. 

To avoid any absolutization of the culture in relation to which the autodi- 
dict's middle-brow culture is objectively defined, it has to be remembered 
that the higher one rises in the social hierarchy, the more ones tastes are 
shaped by the organization and operation of the educational system, which 
is responsible for inculcating the 'programme' (syllabus and intellectual 
schemes) which governs 'cultivated minds' even in their pursuit of the 'per- 
sonal touch' and their aspiration to 'originality 1 . Discrepancies between edu- 
cational Qualifications and cultutal competence (linked to social trajectory 
largely attributable to the domestic transmission of non-scholastic cul* 
ura capital) are, however, sufficiently frequent to safeguard the irreducibil- 
v < recognized even by academics, of 'authentic' culture to 'scholastic' 
^%, which as such is devalued. 

7 providing the means of expression which enable practical prefer- 
con t0 bought ro thc 'evel of quasi-systematic discourse and to be 
make ■ orean ' /ec ^ aroun d explicit principles, the educational system 
cal ti ■ e a ( more or 'ess adequate) symbolic mastery of the practi- 
tj 0l)a j. Cl P s °f taste. As gtammar does for linguistic competence, it ra- 
the &, scnse °f beauty', in those who already have it, giving them 

pie) B S r efetnng to principles (of harmony or rhetoric, for exam- 
tutcs t h C ^ tSl ^ ormu 'ae, instead of relying on improvisation; it subsri- 
^kctiv ' mcnt ' ona ' S uas ' systemaricity of a formal aesthetic for the 
«al p rin C s V sre maricity of the 'aesthetic-in-itself produced by the pracri- 
P cs of taste Thus academicism is potentially present in every 

other words, what arc grasped through indicators such as educating 
level or social origin or, more precisely, in rhe srruciure of rhe rebrj 
ship between them, are also different modes of production of the cii| t ; 
varcd habitus, which engender differences not only in the competence. 
acquired but also in rhe manner of applying rhem. These differences j n 
manner constitute a ser of secondary properties, revealing different CQft 
dirions of acquisition and predisposed ro receive very different values j n 
the various markers. 

Knowing that 'manner' is a symbolic manifestation whose meanim* 
and value depend as much on the perceivers as on the producer, one can 
see how it is thar the manner of using symbolic goods* especially those 
regarded as rhe attributes of excellence, constitutes one of the key mark- 
ers of 'class' and also rhe ideal weapon in strategies of distinction, that J5 
as Proust put it, 'the infinitely varied art of marking distances* The ideol- 
ogy of natural taste contrasts two modalities of culrural competence and 
its use. and, behind them, two modes of acquisition of culture. Total 
early, imperceptible learning, performed within the family from the eai 
liesr days of life and extended by a scholastic learning which presuppose 
and completes It, differs from belated, methodical learning not so much 
in the depth and durability of its effects — as the ideology of culrural 'vc« 
neer' would have it — as in rhe modality of rhe relationship to language 
and culture which it simultaneously tends to inculcate.* 9 It confers the 
self-certainty which accompanies the certainty of possessing cultural le- 
gitimacy, and rhe ease which is the touchstone of excellence; it produces 
the paradoxical relationship to culture made up of self-confidence amid 
(relative) ignorance and of casualness amid familiarity, which bourgeois 
families hand down ro their off spring as if ir were an heirloom. 

The competence of the 'connoisseur', an unconscious master)- of the 
instruments of appropriation which derives from slow familiarization 
and is the basis of familiarity with works, is an 'art', a practical mastery 
which, like an art of thinking or an art of living, cannot be transmirtw 
solely by precept or prescription. learning it presupposes rhe equivalent 
of the prolonged contact between disciple and master in a tradition" 
education, i.e., repeated contact with cultural works and cultured peop' e 
And just as the apprentice or disciple can unconsciously acquire the rules 
of the art, including those that are not consciously known to the mW tCf 
himself, by means of a self-abandonment, excluding analysis and selection 
of the elements of the exemplaiy conducr, so too the art-lover, in a sen* 
surrendering himself to the work, can internalize irs principles of ^ 
strucrion, without these ever being brought to his consciousness and » 
mulated or formulable as such; and this is what makes alt the differ^ 1 
between the theory of art and the experience of the connoisseur, *^ 
generally incapable of staring the principles of his judgements- B)' *■ 
erase, all institutionalized learning presupposes a degree of rationa l 
tion, which leaves its mark on the relationship to rhe goods consult* 
The sovereign pleasure of the aesthete dispenses with concepts. Ir ,s " 

i as much fo ( hc thoughtless pleasure of the 'naive' (glorified in ide- 
P ^ hroueh the myth of childhood and the innocent eye) as to the 
t>l°£* ifo pleasureless thought of rhe petit bourgeois and rhe 'parvenu', 
supP" a j w ays exposed to those forms of aesthetic perversion which put 
° ledee above experience and sacrifice contemplation of the work to 
W __« ^ of the work, ahthesh to asJkeih, like film-buffs who know 

fllS* 1 »U^»» i'« rrt Ifnnnj ihrnit flmc rK^Vi h-avr** nnf CA^n 

j U( . ar ional system ever entirely fulfils its rational function: rhe es- 
^rTas' the system of classification which the school system inculcates 

i rvirr of what schools communicate is again acquired incidentally, 
i rial p dit w •£■ i'Li_i_i 

,u & there is to know about films they have not seen. Nor rhat 
£veryti ins , „ iri , ' . , r 


5 ueh mc order * n which it inculcates knowledge or through the pre- 
positions of its own organization (the hierarchy of disciplines, sec- 
tions, exeicises etc.) or irs operation (mode of assessment, rewards and 
punishments etc). But, in order to transmit at all, it has to perform a 
degree of rationalization of what it t ansmits. Thus, for example, in place 
ofpractical schemes of classification, which are always partial and linked 
ro practical contexts, it puts explicit, standardized taxonomies, fixed once 
and for all in the form of synoptic schemas or dualistic typologies (e.g., 
'classicar/tomantic*), which are expressly inculcated and therefore con- 
served in the memory as knowledge that can be reproduced in virtually 
identical form by all the agents subjected to its action. 

To avosd any absolurization of the culture in relarion to which the aurodi- 
(iact's middle-brow culture is objectively defined, it has to be remembered 
(hat the higher one rises in the social hierarchy, the more One's tastes are 
shaped by the organization and opciarion of the educational system, which 
is responsible for inculcating the 'programme' (syllabus and intellectual 
schemes) which governs 'cultivated minds' even in rheir pursuit of the 'per- 
sonal touch' and their aspiration to 'originality'. Discrepancies between edu- 
cational qualifications and cultural competence (linked to social trajectory 
and largely attributable ro the domestic transmission of non-scholastic cul- 
tural capital) are, however, sufficiently frequent to safeguard the irreducibil- 
y. recognized even by academics, of 'authentic' culture co 'scholastic' 
owicdge, which a* such is devalued. 

enc ^ 8 tne mc a n s of expression which enable practical prefer- 
coik • ° i trough* r o the level of quasi-systematic discourse and to be 
m a ^ y ° r ga n ued around explicit principles, rhe educarional system 

cal pnrf 05 | a ( mc, re or less adequate) symbolic mastery of the practi- 
E ^nali '^iT ? risce ^ s 8 rammar docs f° r linguistic competence, it ra- 
fHe ineajJ % scnse of beauty', in those who already have it, giving them 
^ c )i Pre String to principles (of harmony or rheroric, for exam- 
llJt Cs th formulae, instead of relying on improvisation; it substi- 

tutive lnient *onal quasi systematicity of a formal aesthetic fa the 
QJ Nnci r tcmat ' c,t y of the 'acsthetic-in-itself produced by the pracri- 
P Cs of taste. Thus academicism is potentially present in every 

rational pedagogy which tends to convey piecemeal, in a doctrinal S et r 
explicit norms and formulae, explicitly taught, generally negative rath^ 
than positive, what tradirional learning transmits in the form of a total 
sryle directly grasped m practice. Bur above all — and rhis is why aesthete* 
so abhor pedagogues and pedagogy — rhe rational teaching of art provide 
substitutes for direct experience, it offers short cuts on rhe long path f 
familiarization, it makes possible practices which arc the product of corv 
ccpts and rules instead of springing from the supposed spontaneity f 
taste, thereby offering a solution to those who hope to make up for | 0s . 

The ideology of natural taste owes its plausibility a/id its efficacy to the 
fact rhat, like all the ideological straregies generated in theevejyday class 
srruggle, it naturalizes real differences, converting differences in rhe mode 
of acquisition of culture into differences of nature; it only recognizes 
as legitimate the relation to culture (or language) which least bears rhe 
visible marks of its genesis, which has nothing 'academic', 'scholastic', 
'bookish', 'affected' or 'studied' abour it, bur manifests by irs ease and nat- 
uralness rhat true culrure is nature — a new mystery of immaculate con- 
ception. This is clearly seen in the remarks of an aesthete of the culinary 
art, who writes no differently from Pierre Francastel when the latter, in a 
devastating confession for an art historian, rejects 'intellecrualized knowl- 
edge', which can only 'recognize', in favour of 'visual experience*, the 
sole means of access to 'true vision': 61 

'Taste must not be confused with ga\tronamy. Whereas taste is the nat- 
ural gift of recognizing and loving perfection, gasrranomy is the set of 
rules which govern rhe cultivation and education of taste. Gastronomy is 
to taste as grammar and literature are to the literary seme. And this brings 
us to the heart of rhe problem: if the gourmet is a delicate connoisseur, is 
the gastronome z pedant? . . . The gourmet is his own gastronome, just as 
the man of rasre is his own grammarian . . , Not eveiyone is a gourmet, 
that is why we need gastronomes- We musr look upon gastronomes as 
we look upon pedagogues in general: they are sometimes intolerable ped* 
ants, bur they have their uses. They belong ro rhe tower-, modest order, * n " 
it is up ro them to improve this rather minor gente by means of ract, *J 
straint and elegant lightness . . . There is such a thing as bad taste . . ■ ^ 
persons of refinement know rhis instinctively. For those who do not, n*** 
are needed? 62 

Knowledge by experience* which, like Aquinas's cognith Dei ixperiiR**' 
talis, feels and deplores the essential inadequacy of words and concept* * 
express rhe reality 'tasred* in mystical union, rejects as unworthy rnC l 
rellectual love of art, the knowledge which identifies exp rience P» r 
work with an intellecrual operation of deciphering. 65 

scholars and gentlcmen The differences in manner that m * h * 
differences in mode of acquisition — i.e., in seniority of access to 
dominant class — which are generally as ociared with differences in c ° 



Coix n 


Wit and 


Sffl^ ro hear thls 

^nr^ansay , 
Th f things lie's said in rhis unpleas- 
ant &*y* , 

Hc^ much at court, and as one 

tiiigbr cxp««, , 

He shares the court s misrrust of 

And, as a courtier, del ends with zest 
The ignorance that's in his interest. 


You're very hard indeed on the 

poor court, 
Which hears each day how people 

of your sorr, 
Who deal in inrellectual wares, 

decry it, 
Complain rhat their careers arc 

blighted by it, 
Deplore its wretched taste, and 

blame thcit own 
Unhappy failures on rhar cause 

Permit me, Mister Trissotin, with 


Respect for your grcar name, to say 

that you 
And all your, kind would do well 

to discuss 
The court in rones less harsh and 

That rhe court is not so shorr of 

wit and brain 
As you and all your scribbling 

friends maintain; 
That all things there are viewed 

with common sense, 
Thar good rasre, too, is much in 

And that its knowledge of the 

world surpasses 
The fusty learning of pedantic asses. 


It has good taste, you say? If only 
it had! 


What makes you say. Sir, that its 
taste is bad 7 

J 6 P dt Molicnr, Let fmrna $*waniet 
(1672) m Tht Learned L*dia, initiated 
into English vcree by Richard Wilbur 
(New York and London, HafCOurt Brace 
Javinovieh, 1978), pp 117-118. 


Position of capital, are predisposed ro mark differences within the domi- 
^ nt c i ass j Ui ;t as differences in cultural capital mark the differences be- 
n the classes. That is why manners, especially the manner of 
tonsnip to legitimate culture, are the stake in a permanent struggle, 
jn» t . Can n ° neu(f al starement in these matters: the terms designar- 
tlv , °PPOsing dispositions can be raken as complimentary or pejora- 
**ftw* n ^ on c ^ c P°* nc °f v * Cw - lr is no accident thar rhe opposition 
lcs S | v ? thc scholasric* (or 'pedantic') and the mondatn, the eff'orr- 
lg t , , ^ lnt » is at the hearr of debates over taste and culture in every 
it v crv ! rwo wavs °f producing or apptcciaring culrural works;, 
in aJ clear ly designates two contrasting modes of acquisition, and, 
ti onj , 0c *ern period at least, two different relationships to the educa- 

ju / si j«u« K*7tt/4fMe v/ tf/v juagemem Uf i one T i 

In France, literary debate in the first half of the seventeenth CCn 
was dominated by the antagonism between ihtdoctes — Chapelain, Ba| ^ 
La Mcsnardiere, Farer, Colletet, d'Aubignac etc., who looked to \ t ^ 
theorists, and ulrimarely to Aristotle, for the rules the)' sought to i m& ^ 
on the construction of lirerary works, " and at the same time strove 
ground these rules in reason — and the mondains, who refused ^ o 
bound by precept, made their pleasure their guide and pursued the 
finitesimal nuances which make up the *je ne sais ^uoi* and the delir, 
perfection of savoir vivre. The great debates over raste which lir Cj - 
works arouse or dramatize (such as the question of the precieux i w l' 
by codifying and rationalizing salon delicacy, an art of living defined 
as indefinable, changed its whole nature) involve nor only the virt^ 
with which the different fractions of the dominant class identify, but u 
the Chevalier de Mere so well puts it, 'the manners of practisine 
them, which are themselves kinds of virtues', and through which senior, 
ity in their class, and their way of getting there, are expressed or be- 

Innumerable illustrations could be cited from the vasr lirerarure designed to 
co-jify, inseparably, ordinary behaviour and the creation and perception of 
works of art, in short everything which falls under the absolute jurisdiction 
of taste, one of the key words of rhe age% but one example will suffice, be 
cause it explicitly links manner, mode of acquisition and rhe group it desig- 
nates: 'The aurhot [Fureriere, the bourgeois author of Le Roman bourgeon 
who had criticized La Fontaine and Bcnserade] shows clearly rhat he is wi- 
ther of society nor of the court and rhat his taste is of a pedantry one can- 
not even hope to rectify. Certain things are never understood if they are 
not understood at once: some hard and rough minds will never be led into 
the charm and grace of Benserade's bailers and La Fontaine's fables. Thar 
door is closed to them, and so is mine , . . One can only pray to God for 
such a man and hope never to have dealings wirh him* (Mme, de Sevigne, 
letter to Bussy-Raburin, 14 May 1686). 

Paradoxically, precocity is an effect of seniority: aristocracy is the for* 
par excellence of precocity since it is nothing other than the seniority 
which is the birthright of rhe offspring of ancient families (at leasr in so- 
cieties in which age and aristocracy — virtually equivalent notions— *JJ 
recognized as values). And this initial status-derived capital is enhanced 
by rhe advantages which precocious acquisition of legirtmare cult 11 '* 
gives in learning cultural skills, whether table manners or rhe art of co n 
versation, musical culture or the sense of propriety, playing tennis of p^ 
nunciation. The embodied cultural capital of the previous genera" '* 
functions as a sort of advance (both a head-start and a credit) which, J 
providing from the outser rhe example of culture incarnated in fatf*" ^ 
models, enables the newcomer to start acquiring the basic element* 





td have a man know CvCl ?' 
I "^ , et by his manner of 
thing an n 7 0( 'be convicted of hav- 
speak"* 1 J» , Amo j nc Gombaud, 
^ SI Z rdc Meet (1607-16S5), D< 

/, oaten***- 

.^hat nccds corrccrion in mOSr 
. _-. ls something t0 ° composed, 
*T<X ofarrandstudy.1V 
* mJ nustbetomakeitseemna C u- 

„!.■ Mecc, Da agrmem. 

'But kind words on all matters, 
agreeably uttered, will gratify every 
btener. Wit cannot go further, it is 
[he masreiptece of intelligence. , 
Say 10 them nothing which savours 
of study or seems far-fetched. Above 
all, since they are well pleased with 
their own worth, refrain from in- 
structing chem on any matter, or 
correcting them, whatever mistakes 
you observe them to make.' Mere, 
De U dmitrrjation. 

'This civility is perceived in rhe 
fnrures, rhe manner, in rhe slightest 


****"*"»^ 1L ""** 

actions of the body and rrundV and 
the more one considers it, the more 
one is charmed by ir, without realiz- 
ing where it comes from. , . . For 
everything ihar is done our of con- 
straint or servirude, or has any trace 
of coarseness, destroys ir. And to 
render a person amiable in his ways, 
you should please him as much as 
you can and take care not to burden 
him with tedious instruerions,' 
Mere, Da agremmt 

'Persons of refinement are some- 
rimes obliged to rurn a hand to 
many things, even rhe things of 
whkh they know least In such a 
case, they should not behave like 
professional craftsmen, whose sole 
concern is to finish rheir task. A 
gentleman should seek, nor so much 
ro be expert in whar he underrakes, 
as ro undertake ir like a gentle- 
man . . . This air of ease which 
comes from a fortunare birth and an 
excellent habit is one of the ameni- 
ties of a gentleman; he should set 
about even the most difficult task 
wirh such detachment rhat ir seems 
ro cost him no effort.' Mere, Des 


1 5 legitimate culture, from the beginning, that is, in rhe most uncon- 
scious and impalpable way — and to dispense wirh the labour of decul- 
nation, correction and retraining that is needed co undo the effects of 
a PP r opniare learning. Ixgittmarc manners owe their value to the facr 


T " c y manifest the rarest conditions of acquisition, rhat is, a social 

over time which is tacitly recognized as the supreme 
Cor , m * n gs from rhe past, i.e., accumulated, ctystallaed 

excellence: to 
& - i. vli . nit past, i.e., accumulated, ctystallbed history, aris- 
l c ■ lc nar nes and titles, chateaux or 'stately homes', paintings and col- 
all r « *' vln tage wines and antique furniture, is ro master rime, through 
i ril h° SC tnm £ s whose common fearure is rhat they can only be acquired 
cg ncc cou <"se of time, by means of rime, against time, that is, by inhcri* 
or tnio ugh disposirions which, like the taste for old things, are 

12 f A Serial Critique of the Judgement of TaUe 
likewise only acquired with rime and applied by thase who can take thw 


Every group tends to set up the means of petperuaring itself beyond the ft, 
nite individuals in whom it is incarnated (This was one of Durkheim's 
fundamental insights.) In order to do so, it establishes a whole set of meek. 
anisms, such as delegation, representation and symbolization, which confe r 
ubiquity and eternity. The representative {e.g., the king) is eternal As 
Kantar ovitch has shown, the king has two bodies, a biological, morral 
body, subject to biological infirmities, passion or imbecility, and a political 
body, immortal, immaterial and freed from infirmities or weaknesses. f '^ He 
can secure ubiquity by delegating to others the authority with which he is 
invested. His taxes are levied by jisats ubtque present, and, as Post obseiv^ 
the delegate who holds plena p&mtm agendi 'can do everything that the 
mandator himself can do*, thanks to his procuratio ad omnia faemda!* 
Again, univenitas non morttur. Death, from die point of view of groups, 
is only an accident; and personified collectives organize themselves in 
such a way chat the demise of the mortal bodies which once embodied the 
group— representatives, delegates, agents, spokesmen — does nor affect the 
existence of the group or rhe function in which it is realized: digmlas non 

If this is accepted (and it would need to be esrablished more systemati- 
cally), rhen capital makes it possible to appropriate the collectively pro- 
duced and accumulated means of really overcoming anthropological limits. 
The means of escaping from generic alienations include represen ration, the 
portrait or statue which immortalizes the person represented (sometimes, 
by a sort of pleonasm, in his own lifetime); and memorials, the tombstone, 
the written word, aere permnius, which celebrates and 'hands on to poster- 
ity', and, m particular, historical writing, which gives a place in legitimate 
hisiory — hence the particular status which the public, especially the bour- 
geois public, gives ro historians, the masters of scientific cternization — and 
the commemorative ceremonies in which the group offers tributes of hom- 
age and gratitude to the dead, who are rhcreby shown to be siill living and 
active. Thus it can be seen that erernal life is one of the most sought-after 
social privileges, rhe quality of the eternity depends, of course, on the qual- 
ity and extent of the group providing it, and can range from a requiern 
mass organized by the family ro an annual national holiday. 

If the foregoing argument suggests an 'analysis of essence 1 (though » 
removed, ir would seem, from Heidegger and his 'old chest'), that is b^ 
cause most groups have sought to lay down absolute, final difference* •*? 
means of the irreversibility of time, which gives inflexible rigour T ° cvC T 
form of social order based on the order of successions. The holders * n 
claimants ro succession — father and son, owner and heir, master and » 
ciple, predecessor and successor — are separated by norhing, except rirt 1 ' 
but there is every sort of social mechanism to make this gap unbridgr 
able. Thus, in the struggle between the different 'manners', i.e., the ">" / 
ent manners of acquiring, the dominant groups are always on the sid c 

The Aristocracy of Culture / 7} 

j nsc nsible and invisible mode of acquisition, that is, the oldest 

th c ^ precious one. This is what provides the invariant elements of 

!T mina n * discourse and gives an air of eternal youth to cerrain 

iN although they are in reality strictly situated and dated, like all the 

the 171 ' i aces of elegant disquisition on innate taste or the blundering 

of <pedanrs- 

""""i tical mastery of social significance, based on funcrional and structural 
^ uov underlies and facilitates everyday reading of the 'classics', and, 
more, since it is a pr encal use, literary quotation, a quite special use 
cs f i course which is a sore of summons ro appear as advocate and witness, 
'Vjrrtsed {Q a p^ author on the basis of a social solidarity disguised as in- 
2 llcctual solidarity The pracrical sense of meaning, which stops shotc of 
obiectify'ng the social affinity which makes it possible—since that would 
nullify *hc desired effect, by relativinng both the reading and the text — pro- 
vides simultaneously a social use and a denial of the social basis of that use. 

Identifying the invariants must not, however, lead us to treat a particu- 
lar state of the struggle as eternal, and a true comparative study would 
have to take account of the specific forms that the struggle and the 
themes in which it is expressed take on when the objective relations be- 
rween the class fractions change. It seems, forexample, that in the second 
half of the seventeenth century the growing authority of the mondains 
and of the court, combined with thc tendency of high society to become 
more cultivated, reduced the distance between doaes and mondains; this 
led to the rise of a new species of man of letters, typified by the Jesuits 
Rapin and Bouhours,* 9 masters of rhetoric who were themselves both 
doctes and mondains, who frequented artists and aristocrars and helped 
to produce a synthesis of the demands of the court and the academy (and 
did so by shifting the ccnue of the debate from the question of worthy 
subjects to that of the style in which they might be iteated). 

bui t nowadays, the fact thar an increasingly large proportion of the 

t c"n bourgeoisie ts making intensive use of the educational system (and 
^ . ia 'y. in France, the gramki ecoki) is tending to modify the form of the 
i nc ^? n5 ^'P between rhe ondain and the scholastic— cultural excellence 
and en" 1 belongs t ( hose who combine the two modes of acquisition — 
( ion b c ase ^ ucml y mc content of the ritual antitheses in which the opposi- 
^^_ wccn Jscholats' and 'gentlemen 1 is expressed. 70 

Th ~" " 

Vc niti c Ca C ° C rc ' ar * ons between the nineteenth-cenruiy German uni- 
Utto n aA , r ^ e princely courts represents another state of the power re- 
v ' rt ues e5l J, n £ in a different configuration of rhe images of the scholarly 
k° Ur 2eo ^ C <0urt *y v ' rfue s. As Norbert Elias very clearly shows, 
f<grat c d in ' caua ' s wer e much eatlier and much more completely in- 
•nto the world of the court in France than in Germany. The 

conventions of style and forms of civility which dominate the eoV 
tional system and all its products, in particular the attention giv cn 
language and to intellectual propriety, derived, in the case of Fran,, 
from court society, whereas in Germany the intelligentsia, especially ■ ' 
the universities, set itself up in opposition co the court and the Fn^, , 
models it was importing, summing up its vision of 'high society* j n . 
antithesis between Civilization', characterized by frivolity and supcnV 
alicy, and 'Culture*, defined by seriousness, profundity and authenticity *■ 
In other words, there is the same basic opposition between doctes ^ . 
mondains, with identical content, but with the values reversed: here th* 
doctes could not assert their autonomy except by asserting their own v j. 
tucs and their own 'manner of practising them', thereby devaluing w^ 
society virtues. 

The fact remains that the 'pedant's' situation is never entirely comfort- 
able. Against the 'populace' and with the mondain aristocracy — who 
have every reason also to accept it, since they have an interest in birth- 
rights — he is inclined to accept the ideology of innate tastes, since it ( s 
rhe only absolute guarantee of his election; but against the mondain he is 
forced to assert the value of his acquirements, and, indeed, the value of 
the work of acquisition, the 'slow effort to improve the mind', as Kant 
put it, which is a blemish in the eyes of the mondain, but in his own eyes 
his supreme merit. 

The embarrassment of academic minds, indebted and committed ro acquisi- 
tion, surfaces whenever ir is a question of the adequate approach to a work 
of art and ihe right way to acquire it; and rhe contradiction is at the heart 
of alt their aesthetic theories, not to mention rheir attempts to establish a 
pedagogy of art. The ideology of natural gifts is too potent, even within 
the educational system, for a n expression of faith in rhe powers of a ratio- 
nal pedagogy aimed at reducing the practical schemes of familiarity to codi- 
fied rules, despite the fact that this ptactical affirmation of the 'natural 
righr 1 to art is the natural weapon of those who appeal to knowledge and 
ideas and aim ro discredit rhe divine right of rhe advocates of immediate 
experience and pleasure. For example, mere are all rhe debares over the 
teaching of art (more specifically, the teaching of drawing) — a contradic- 
tion tn terms for some* who hold that beauty is neirher raught nor learnt, 
bur is a grace rransmirred from invested masters ro predestined disciples; *° 
others, a field of pedagogy like any nther, (One thinks, for example, of triC 
polemics between the advocates of rational pedagogy, such as Guillaume* 
and the champions of the charismatic view, such as Ravaisson, over the * n * 
traduction of drawing lessons into general education in rhe eadly years ° 
the Third Republic.) ^^^, 

expeiuence and knowledge Ideology is an illusion consistent w * 
interest, but a well-grounded illusion. Those who invoke expcri^f 1 
against knowledge have a basis for their prejudice in the real opposi" 
between the domestic learning and the scholastic learning of cult u 

s culture 3nd the bourgeois relation to culture owe their inimi- 
gouffr (jcier to the fact that, like popular religion as seen by Groe- 
tfP* t ^ey are acquired, prc-verbally, by carJIy immersion in a world of 
favYjZj people, practices and objects. When the child grows up in a 

' h Id in which music is not only listened to (on hi-fi or radio 
h ouS j s \ but also performed (the 'musical mother* of bourgeois auto 
n ° W ohy)> 2n ^ a f° rt '° f i w hen the child is introduced at an early age to 
k'^ hie* instcument — especially the piano — the effect is at least to pro 
* rtjore familiar relationship to musk, which differs from the always 

rwhat distant, contemplative and often verbose relation of those who 
*° com e t0 mus ' c trough concerts or even only through records, in 

ch the same way as the relation to painting of those who have discov 
crcd it belatedly, in the quasi-scholastic atmosphere of the museum, dif- 
fers from 'he relation developed by those born into a world filled with art 
objects, rami liar family property, amassed by successive generations, testi- 
ng to their wealth and good taste, and sometimes 'home made 1 (like 
jam or embroidered linen). 

Differences linked to social origin are no doubt most marked in personal 
production of visual arr or the playing of a musical instrument, aptitudes 
which, both in rheir acquisition and in their performance, presuppose not 
only dispositions associated with long establishment in the world of art and 
culture but also economic means (especially in the case of piano-playing) 
and spare time. At equal educational levels, they vary strongly by social ori- 
gin. Thus, among holders of the baccataareat, 11.5 percent of the respon- 
dents who originate from the dominant. class say they often play a musical 
instrument, compared with 5 percent of those of middle-class or working- 
class origin. Among graduares, the corresponding proportions are 22,5 per- 
cent and 5 percent. Painting and sculpture, relatively neglected by those 
with the highest qualifications, ace also, ac equal educational levels, much 
more common among respondents of dominant-class origin. 
Status- linked familiarity is manifested in, fa example, knowledge of the 

°pCotiunities ind conditions for acquiring works of an, which depends nor 
11 J on the material and cultural capacity to appropriate but also on long- 
ing membership in a social world in which art, being an object of ap 

F°pnation, is p rcS ent in the form of familiar, persons! objects. Thus, in the 
oft** Comm ' ss ' oncc ' by the Ministry of Culture (CS. Vll), the percentage 
* /indents abj c to gj ve ^ answer when asked the lowest price ar which 
Profe!? 1 n ° W k y y *" or '# na l lithograph or serigraph by a contemporary 
CCru f 10na ) artist* varies considerably by social class, ranging from 10.2 pcr- 
WOf i° a g"cultural workers, 13.6 percent of unskilled and semi-skilled 
ccn t r , ^7 6 percent of clerical and commercial employees co66.6 pcr- 
--■--^^orexecutives and professionals. 

^lueJ 0lCC °^ Wor ^ s suc ^ M crjc Concerto for (he Left Hand (much more 

thay, a C ankon g those who play an instrument — especially the piano — 

° n & others) or L Enfant tt Us tortiiiges is much more strongly 

linked to social origin than to educational capital. By contrast, ^ > 
works like the WeU-Tempzrtd Clavier or the Art of Fugue, thete \ % 
stronger correlation with educational capital than with social oripjp, 
Through these indicators, despite' their imperfections, one can dis^ 
guish different relations to the hierarchical, hieratchizing world of c^i 
rural works, which are closely linked to a set of interrelated difference* 
and which stem from different modes of acquisition — domestic ^ 
scholastic, or exclusively scholastic — of cultural capital. Thus, when R^ 
land Barthes makes an aesthetic out of a particular relation to mu$i c 
produced by early, domestic, 'practical* acquaintance, and describes j^ 
thetic enjoyment as a sort of immediate communication between the Us. 
tener's body and the performer's 'inner body', present in *the grain of tr, e 
singer's voice' or 'the pad of the pianist's fingers', he is in fact referring t 
the opposition between two modes of acquisition. 

On the one hand, there is music fot record collectors (linked to a de- 
mand arising from the 'growth of the number of listeners and the disap- 
pearance of practitioners'), an expressive, dramatic, sentimentally clear 
art of communication, of understanding: 'This culture . ■ ■ wants art, 
wants music, provided they be clear, that they "translate" an emotion 
and represent a signified (the "meaning" of a poem): an art that inocu- 
lates pleasure (by reducing it to a known, coded emotion) and reconciles 
the subject to what in music (an be said: what is said about it by Institu- 
tion, Criticism, Opinion.' 7 * On the other hand, there is an art which pre- 
fers the sensible to sense, which hates eloquence, grandiloquence, pathos 
and the pathetic, the expressive and the dramatic. This is French mik&t, 
Duparc, the later Faure, Debussy, everything that in another age would 
have been called pure music, the intimism of the piano, the maternal 
instiument, and the intimacy of the bourgeois salon. In this antithesis 
between two relations to music which are aways defined, more uncon* 
sciously than consciously, in relation to each other— the taste for rhc art- 
ists of the past, Panzera or Cortot, loved even for their imperfections 
which evoke the freedom of the amateur, implies a distasre for modern 
performers and their impeccable recordings for mass production— -o^ 
again finds the old opposition between the docre, who is k° un 
to the code (in every sense), the rules, and therefoie the Institution 
and Criticism, and the hedonistic mondain, who, being on the ^ 
of natute, the 'natural', is content to reel and enjoy, and who exf*' 
all trace of intellectualism, didacticism, pedantry from his arnSl 

object LESSONS Eveiy material inheritance is, strictly speaking, al* 
cultural inheritance. Family heirlooms not only bear material witness 
the age and continuity of the lineage and so consecrate its social iocnf 1 V 
which is inseparable from permanence over time; they also contribute 
a practical way to irs spiritual reproduction, that is, to transmitting 

virtues and competences which are the basis of legitimate mem 
U h in bourgeois dynasties. What is acquired in daily contact with 
k CfS n t obje ct5 > Dv regular visits ro antique-dealers and galleries, or, more 
apCI fa by moving * n a universe of familiar, intimate objects * which ate 
?irn > as Ri'ke says, 'guileless, good, simple, certain', is of course a cer- 
• s ta5 fC '» wri ' cn * s n °thing other than a relation of immediate familiar- 
ra "with the things of tasre. But it is also the sense of belonging ro a 
l % e polished, more polite, better policed woflld, a world which is justi- 
T a jn existing by its perfection, its harmony and beauty, a world which 
nrod uce d Beethoven and Mozart and continues to produce people ca- 
ble of playing and appreciating them. And finally it is an immediate 
dherence, at the deepest level of rhe habitus, to the tastes and distastes, 
Sympathies and aversions, fantasies and phobias which, more than de- 
clared opinions, forge the unconscious unity of a class- 

If a group's whole life style can be read off from the style it adopts in 
furnishing or clothing, this is not only because these properties are the 
objectiftcation of the economic and cultural necessity which determined 
rheir selection, but also because the social relations objectified in familiar 
objecrs, in their luxury or poverty, their 'distinction* or 'vulgarity', their 
'beauty 5 or 'ugliness', impress rhemselves through bodily experiences 
which may be as profoundly unconscious as the quiet caress of beige car- 
pets or the thin clamminess of tattered, garish linoleum, rhe harsh smell 
of bleach or perfumes as imperceptible as a negative scent. * Every inte- 
nor expresses, in its own language, the present and even the past state of 
its occupants, bespeaking the elegant self-assurance of inherited wealth, 
the flashy arrogance of the nouveaux riches, the discreet shabbiness of the 
poor and the gilded shabbiness of 'poor relations' striving ro live beyond 
their means; one thinks of the child in D. H. Lawrence's story The 
Rocking.Horse Winner' who hears thioughout the house and even in 
j«S bedroom, full of expensive toys, an incessant whispering: 'There must 
more money.' Experiences of this sort would be the material of a so- 
<w psychoanalysis which set out to grasp the logic whereby the social 
■On$ objt cf i^ cc j in thmgs and also, of course, in people are insensibly 
OtrJ - ta ^ in 5 the** place in a lasting relation to the world 

the ** Whlch man ' fcSts "self, for example, in thresholds of tolerance of 
v iolen tU 3nC ' soc,a ^ W0I H °f noise, overcrowding, physical or verbal 
one A' ~^ n d °{ which the mode of appropriation of cultural goods is 

Voices f CCt mo ^ c of acquisition is mosr marked in the ordinary 
w bich a £ cvcryda y exisrence, such as furnitute, clothing or cooking, 
5 'tion 5 k P art|Cu] arly revealing of deep rooted and long-standing dispo- 
haVc to be 3USC ' *^ n £ oursia e the scope of the educational system, they 
pI ^ r iptio COnfr0fUc d. as it were, by naked taste, without any explicit 
,n * a «cnc> ^ P roscri P tion ' othcr tnan from semi-legitimate legirimiz- 
s such as women's weeklies or 'ideal home' magazines- 

This means that, however imperfect it may be, given the present state of 
functioning of the educational system, the minimal rationalization imp[j«j 
by every institutionalized pedagogy, in particular the transformation of h 
'sense', functioning in practical form, into partially codified knowledge 
(e.g., literal histor , with its classifications by periods, gemes and styles) 
has the effect of reducing, at least among the most over-selected survivor* 
the weight of what is abandoned to inherited 'senses' and, consequently 
the differences linked to economic and cultural inheritance. It is also true 
that these diffetences continue to function in other areas, and that they ^ 
cover rheir full force as soon as the logic of the struggle for distinction 
moves its real stakes into these areas— which it of course always rends 
to do. 

The adjectives the respondents have chosen to describe an interior, and 
the source of their furnirure, are more closely linked to their social origi n 
than to their educational qualifications (unlike their judgement on pho, 
tographs or their knowledge of composers), because nothing, perhaps 
more directly depends on early learning, especially the learning which 
takes place without any express intention to teach, than the dispositions 
and knowledge that are invested in clothing, furnishing and cooking or, 
more precisely, in the way clothes, furniture and food are bought. Thus, 
the mode of acquisition of furniture (department store, antique-dealer, 
shop or Flea Market) depends at least as much on social origin as on 
schooling. At equal educarional levels, those members of the dominant 
class who were also born into that class— whoi more often than the 
others, inherited some of their furniture — acquire their furniture (espe- 
cially those living in Paris) from an antique-dealer more often than those 
born into other classes, who tended to buy from a department store, a 
specialized shop or the Flea Market. (The last is especially frequented on 

Table 5 Furniture purchases in the dominanr class, by education and social origin (pert' 01 ' 
respondents who bought their furniture from each source). 1 


Social origin 









Lower than bac 

Working and middle classes 
Upper classes 








Working and middle classes 
Upper classes 







Working and middle classes 
Upper classes 






grartdc ecolc 

Working and middle classes 
Upper classes 






a. Some respondents indicated more than one source 

hand by the rising membeis or rhe dominant class who have 
rh e Jucational capital* and on theorher hand by members of rhe dom- 
ttiosr born j nt0 r ^ at c | asSi w ho have less educational capita] chan 

in anr c j n promised, i.e., rhose who have had one or two years of higher 

jjj^tort-ic ^ble 5.) 

d it is probably in tasres in ,&*/ that one u'ould find the strongest 

a mOS t indelible mark of infant learning, the lessons which longest 
an nd che distancing or collapse of the native world and most dur- 

i maintain nostalgia for ir. The native world is. above all, the maternal 
id the world of primordial tastes and basic foods, of rhe archetypal 

1 nofi t0 ( ke archetypal cultural good, in which pleasure giving ts an 
] p ar t of pleasure and of the selective disposition towards pleasure 
which is acquired rhrough pleasure- 
While che aim "as ro identify preferences in food, the search for the mosr 
economical and 'synthetic' questions led me to question rhe respondents on 
the meals (hey served on special occasions, an interesting indicator of the 
mode of sdf-presen ration adopte in 'showing ofT a Jife-sryle (in which fur 
nirure also plays a part), for a complete understanding of choices in this 
area, a particularly complex set of factors has to be borne in mind: rhe style 
of meal that people like to ofier is no doubr a very good indicator of the 
image they wish ro give or avoid giving ro others and, as such, ir is the sys- 
remanc expression of a system of facrors including, in a dition ro rhe indi- 
cators of the position occupied in the economic and cultural hierarchies, 
economic trajectory, social trajectory and cultural trajectory. 

This bemg so, it is not surprising thar rhe effects are most visible in the 
petite bourgeoisie. The members of the established petite bourgeoisie more 
ofrcn serve r heir friends plentiful and good', 'simple but weli-prcsen red* 
weals chan the new petite bourgeoisie, who prefer ro serve 'original* meals 
° r "pot luck*. But one also finds strong differences linked to trajectory, Thus 
ne* pc Mt bourgeois of middle or working-class origin more often offer 
plentiful a nd good* meals, which is never the case with rhose of upper class 

the* 1 "' K? 10 ' ^ conrrast ' are VCl 7 '"dined to rhe 'original and exotic 1 - In 

J CaD '*shed petite hourgeoisie, the propensity to offer 'plentiful and 
Spiva dl^ iS aS stron £ am ong those in decline as among rhose who are 
say he ^ ™ c an ^ ° r, ginare from the working classes. The former never 
Kirn ^ ^ OC " UC,C or ^S" 11 * anc * exotic' meals, whereas rhe latter 

— — _! mcv **° Uhough not, of course, as often as rhe new petit bourgeois). 

an v tra J° a ^ c ^enr tn at even the purest pleasures, rhose most purified of 
*Hich J ° c0r P 0rc a 1,r y (such as the unique, pure note' of the Philebm, 
in tne . rc '*v served them for the few'), contain an element which, as 
rcfcrs diii Sl * P lcasures of rhe tastts of ^ 00 ^ rhc archetype of all taste. 
tCriT >ine aS ^ C ° the olc * esr ant * deepest experiences, those which de- 
v ° Ur ful/i 0vcr '^ er ermine the primitive oppositions — bitter/sweer, nV 
s, P la - hot/cold, coarse/delicate, austere/aright — which are as 

essential to gastronomic commentary as to the refined appreciations 
aesthetes. To different degrees, depending on the art, the genre and t L 
style, art is never entirely the casa mmtale, the discourse intended on | y c 
be read, decoded, interpreted, which the intellectualist view makes f ° 
This product of an 'art 1 in Durkheim's sense, i.e., l a pure practice wirh 
rheory 1 , and sometimes of a simple mimesis, a son of symbolic gymriai 
tics, always contains also something ineffable, not through excess, ^ f i 
celebrants would have it, but by default, something which comrnun 
cares, as it were, from body to body, like the rhythm of music or t nc a 
vourof colours, that is, falling shorr of words and concepts. Art is jj^- 
'bodily thing', and music, the most 'pure 1 and 'spiritual' of the arts, ; s 
perhaps simply the most corporeal. Linked to hats d'ame which are also 
states of the body or, as they were once called, humouis, it ravishes, c , r , 
rics away, moves. It is pitched not so much beyond words as below them 
in gestures and movements of the body, rhythms — which Piagei some' 
where says characterize the functions located, like everything which gov- 
erns taste, at the articulation of the organic and the mental— quicken ine 
and slowing, crescendo and decrescendo, tension and relaxation 7> This 15 
no doubt why, once it leaves the realm of pure technique, musical criti- 
cism scarcely speaks other than in adjectives and exclamations. As mys- 
tics speak of divine love in the language of human love, so the least 
inadequate evocations of musical pleasure are those which can replicate 
the peculiar forms of an experience as deeply rooted in the body and in 
primitive bodily experiences as the tastes of food, 

inherited capital ani> ACQutRiru capjtai Thus, the differences 
which the relationship ro educarional capital leaves unexplained, ami 
which mainly appear in the relationship with social origin, may be due to 
differences in rhe mode of acquisition of the cultural capital now pos- 
sessed Bur rhey may also be due to differences in rhe degree to which 
this capital is recognized and guaranteed by academic qualifications; a 
cerrain proportion of the capita) actually owned may nor have received 
academic sanction, when it has been directly inherited and even when »' 
has been acquired in school. Because of rhe long hysteresis of the mode 
of acquisition, the same educational qualifications may guarantee quitf 
different relations to culture— but dccreasingly so, as one rises in r " c 
educational hierarchy and as mote value comes to be set on ways of using 
knowledge and less on merely knowing. If the same volume of educa- 
tional capital (guaranteed cultural capiral) may correspond to differen 1 
volumes of socially profitable cultural capital, this is firsr because a * 
rhough the educational system, by its monopoly of certification, govern 
the conversion of inherited cultural capital into educational capital, ' 
does nor have a monopoly on rhe production of cultural capiral. 1 1 g lV 
irs sanction to inherited capiral ro a greater or less extent (i.e., there is* 
unequal conversion of inherited cultural capital) because, at differe" 

ts jnd, at rhe same moment, at different levels and in different 

fpo^ w jj ar it demands is more or less identical to what the 'inheritors' 

cCr ° t * and because it acknowledges more ot less value in othet forms of 

b f ' n ^ , ■' ^ C apifal and other dispositions (such as docility towards the in- 




"*~"~IL 5S cssofs of strong educational capital who have also inherited strong 
i ral capital. anc ^ *° cn i° v a dual title to cu I rural nobility, the self- 
CJ ancc of legitimate member hip and the ease given by familiarity (point 
fifiurc 3)i a K opposed, fir t, to those who lack both educational capital 
j inherited cultural capital (A) (and to all those who ate situated lowet 
V wn rhe axis representing perfect reconversion of cultural capital inro edu 
rional capif a D- Bur rhey are also opposed, on the one hand, to those 
1 with equivalent inherited cultural capital, have btained lower educa- 
onalcapital (^ or C) (or who have an inherited cultural capita) greater 
than rhctr educational capital — e.g., C relative to B\ or D' relative ro D) 
a nd who are closer to rhem, especially as regards "general culture", rhan the 
holders of idenrical qualifications; and t on the other hand, to those who 
have similar educational capital but who started off* with less culrural capital 
(Dor D') atid whose relation to culture, which rhey owe more to rhc 
school and less to rhe family, is less familm and more scholastic, (Hiese 
secondary oppositions occut at every level of the axis.) 

Figure J The relationship beri^een inherited CuLruraJ Capital and 
educational capital. 







c c / 

1 / X 

% X 


i fs 

i //A 
l / jr 

\ / / 




^ ^ ^ _ 





' x 1 

f 1 






jT K 



- 1 1 1 



BEPC bac licence 

educational ca 

One could construct a similar diagram for each ry[>e of capital (eco- 
nomic, cultural and social) possessed initially and ar the time of observa- 
rion, and then define the set of possible cases for rhe relationship between 
inirial capital (defined as regards volume and composition) and eventual 
capital, characterized in the same way. (There would be, for example, j n j- 
viduals declining in all types of capital, or declining in only one and risjn 
in others — reconversion — etc.) If one sufficiently refined the analysis of t n 
species of capital (dividing culrural capital, for example, into sub-species 
such as lirerary, scientific and legal-economic capital) or the analysis of the 
level it would be possible to find ail rhe cases empirically observed, in all 
their complexity bur also in their quasi-infinite multiplicity. 

To be entirely rigorous, one would have to allow for structural changes 
such as rhe devaluation of nominal qualifications which occurs in periods ' 
(as in recent years) when the educational system is used more intensively 
(This devaluation has been symbolized by placing rhe line indicating the 
real equivalents of qualifications below rhe bisector which marks the equiva- 
lenrs of the nominal value of qualifications.) One would also have to make 
allowance for the discrepancy between the number of years of study and ^ 
qualification obtained (which becomes more probable as initial capital rises 
and schooling becomes mote widespread — so that it now affects even the 
working classes whose childten often leave secondary school without any 
qualification). It would then be seen that, to explain certain practices ade- 
quately (in particular, autodidacticism) one has to consider nor only the 
qualification and the number of years of schooling but also the relationship 
between rhe two (which may generate self-assurance or embarrassment, ar- 
rogance or resentment etc). One might also consider the relationship be- 
tween age ar rhe end of schooling and the legitimate age for a qualification, 
such as the bac {buccal aureat) ar 17 or the age limits fot iht concours (en- 
trance examinations for the grandd holts). One of the mediations through 
which cultural capital is transformed inro educarional capiral is speed of 
progress through rhe system. 

The discrepancy between educational capital and the culrural capi^l 
acrually possessed, which is the source of differences between holders of 
identical educational capiral,. can also result from rhe fact that the same 
educational qualification may correspond to schooling of veiy unequal 
duration (i.e., there is unequal conversion of scholasrically acquired cul- 
tural capital). The direct or indirect effects of one or several years 01 
study may in fact nor be the award of a diploma — as l* tnC 
case with all those who drop out in the rwo years leading to the bacca- 
laurear or, ar a higher level, those who have spent one or two years * 
universiry without obtaining a qualification. Bur in addition, because tn 
frequency of this discrepancy has risen with the chances of access of rrl 
different classes to secondary and higher education, agents belonging r 
different generations (as identified by age-groups) are likely to have <& 
voted a very differenr number of years of study (with all the related 
fecrs, including greater non-certified competence, of course, but also rn 

■ n of a different rdarion to culture — 'studenrification 1 effect— 
$c^\ j^ational insritutions differing greatly in their teachers, their 
tt C- ' ] merhods rheir social recruitment etc in order to obtain an 

tca cn , & salification. It follows from this that rhe differences connected 
jde n ic miecrory and the volume of inherited cultural capital are 


oisie w ^° are tri cmsdves born into rhe petite bourgeoisie or 
from rhe working classes (and particularly represented in the es- 

nil trajectory and the volume of inherited cultural capital are 
* *L- ed by differences, mainJy visible among members of the petite 

1" ked pctire bourgeoisie), which rerlecr changes in the srate of rhe re- 
- between thecducarional system and rhe class srructure. To these 

] system wmch are expressed in different straregies 

jtf nc vocks of generation correspond different relations to the educa- 

♦ " i extern which are expressed in different scrareeies of cultural in- 
nona) sys r - - ■ t a 

rstment ftOt guaranteed by the educational institution (i.e., autodi- 

In the absence of more precise indicators of the overall style of culrural 
consumption (e.g., rhe opposition between the satirical weeklies Le Canard 
Enchdw^nd Cbariit Hebdo x or, in rhe area of popular science, between Sci- 
ence el ^/f and Psychologic), one can study rhe information the survey pro- 
vides on favourite singers. Ir might be thought that the fact that, at all 
levels of educational capital, the youngesr respondents choose rhe singers of 
the younger generation (Franchise Hardy or johnny H ally day) more often 
than the older respondents, who more often choose older singers (Guetary 
or Mariano), is adequately explained by the dales of the singers' firsr appear- 
ance in the field of culrural production. In facr, among baccalaurear-holders, 
ihe youngesr more often choose Jacques Douai (who was born in 1920and 
performed ar rhe Vieux Colombier in 1963), Jacques flrel (who was born 
in 1929, made his Paris debut in 1953 ar the Theatre des Trois Baudets and 
performed at the Paris Olympia in 1958 and 1961) or even Leo Ferre (born 
'9 l <$, degrees in Arts and Political Science, debut in Paris cabarets 1946), 
whereas the older ones more often choose Edith Piaf (born 1915, died 
^ 3, debut ar the ABC in 19>7), Luis Mariano (born 1920, iirst success ar 
Ca$mo Momparnasse, 1945), Gilbert Becaud (born 1927, first became 
"? Wn , in cabarcrs and then at Olympia; consecrated in 1954, 
jn* k ^a u d year') or even Petula Clark (born 1933, top of the bill at 
Olympia i%o, v oted <most likeable and popular star' in 1963). 76 Ir can be 
that co make sense of these telarionshjps one has to rake into account 
^ only the singers' ages or the dates when they made their breakthroughs 
t>uf V ? n C ^ C P^ aCCS w bere they were performing ar the time of the suivey, 
so ' ~~^nd especially— the degree of affinity between the style of their 

kfiht ' m ° re <inre *'*' cCua ^ i R one case, closer to peor-bourgeois tasre for 
c wo j^ era . an d realist song in the orher, and rhe cultural dispositions of 
sc nQo j ucat, °nal generarions produced by two very different states of the 

*'eeh i ar f s,m 'l ar differences ber^'een educational generations within the 

much ' * ract(on °^ trte class. The younger differ from rhe older nor so 
In their overall competence as in the exrent and 'freedom 1 of their in- 

vestment? Ltke their elders they read scientific and technical works, but 
they are slightly more interested in philosophical essays or poetry. They ff 
no more frequently to museums, but when they do, they go more often 
the Modern Art Museum. These tendencies are particularly pronounced 
amongst those of them (relatively more numerous than among the older 
ones) who originate from the middle or upper classes and who know a 
(relatively) very high number of musical works and composers, are in- 
terested in modern art and philosophy and often go ro the cinema But 
what perhaps most distinguish the two generations of technicians are the 
external signs — dress and hairstyle, in particular — and also their declared 
preferences, the younget ones, who seek to draw close to the student style 
say they follow fashion and like clothes which 'suir rheir person ality', 
whereas the older ones more often choose 'sober and correct' or 'classic^ 
cut' clothes (choices characteristic of established petit bourgeois). 

The old-style autodidact was fundamentally defined by a reverence f 0r 
culture which was induced by abrupt and early exclusion, and which | Cc j 
to an exalted, misplaced piety, inevitably perceived by the possessors f 
legitimate culture as a sort of grotesque homage. 

The recognition of incompetence and cultural unworthiness which charac- 
terizes old-sryle aurodidacricism is especially seen among members of the es- 
tablished petite bourgeoisie originating from the working or middle classes, 
who say very frequently (70 percent of them, compared wirh 31 percent of 
the new petite bourgeoisie originating from the same classes) char 'paint- 
ings are nice bur difficult. The clearest manifestation of the cultural alien- 
ation of old-style autodidacts is rheir readiness ro offer proof of rheir culture 
even when ir is not asked for, betraying cbeir exclusion by their eagerness 
ro prove their membership (in contrast to the well-born, who mask their 
ignorance by ignoring questions or situations which might expose it). 

In these outsiders, who seek to use a deeply orthodox self-teaching as a 
way of continurnga brutally foreshortened ttajeerory by their own initia- 
tive, the whole relation ro culture and cultural authorities bears the 
stamp of exclusion by a system rhat can get the excluded to recognize 
their exclusion, By contrast, new-style autodidacts have often kept a pl acC 
in the educational system up to a relatively high level and in the course 
of this long, iJl-rewarded association have acquired a relation to leg'"' 
mate culture that is at once liberated' and disabused, familiar and discn- 
chanted. It has nothing in common with the distant reverence of w* 
old-style autodidact, although it leads to equally intense and passions 1 
investments, but in quite different areas, disclaimed or abandoned by tfl 
educational system—strip cartoons or jazz rarhcr than history or astro 
omy, psychology (even parapsychology) or ecology rather than archaeo 
ogy or geology. 77 These arc the categories which provide the audience t 
all the productions of the 'counter-culture' {Charlie Hebdo, L'Echo del ■* 

I e tc.) which offer the products of the intellectual avant-garde 
ptfldr ijstic form, as others 'popularize' (i.e., transmit beyond the 
in J olirr f intimate receivers) the products of the academic rear-guard 
gr° u P , fr* example) or the consecrated avant-garde (Lt Nouvtl Obser 

yStUti' j c j erS o f the monopoly of manipulation of the sacred, the literati 

^ C church, never have much time for those who 'claim to discover 

Q { e v ery se ] vCS the sources of traditional authority' and to have direct 

"' [ „ rh *. treasure of which they are the guardians. As Gershom Scho- 

,,— /~^^% v LJ Lilt ^ 

hows, 'They usually do their best to place obstacles in the parh of 

tic They give him no encouragement, and if in the end the ob- 

1 frighten the mystic and bring him back to the old accustomed 

5f3C so much the better from the standpoint of authority.' 78 But pre- 

*** vc censorship by the institution can take place without anyone hav- 


apply controlsor constraints. Whereas traditional autodidacts srill 
-ct the academic institution to indicate and open the short cuts of 
popularization and the vulgate, which are always, directjy or indirectly, 
dominated by the institution, 79 the most liberated of the new autodidacts 
seek their gurus among the heresiart;hs who srill perform the function 
traditionally fulfilled by the authorities, namely, as Scholem also says, 
that of 'showing exactly what the novice has to expect at every step' and 
'providing the symbols with which this experience can be described or 

the two markets The family and the school function as sites in 
which the competences deemed necessary at a given time are constituted 
by usage itself, and, simultaneously, as sites in which the price of those 
competences is determined, i.e., as markets which, by their positive or 
negative sanctions, evaluate performance, reinforcing what is acceptable, 
discouraging what is not, condemning valueless dispositions to extinc- 
tion (jokes which 'fall flat' or, though acceptable in another context, in 
another market, here seem *out of place* and only provoke embarrass- 
me/t or disapproval, quotations — in Larin, for example — which sound 
'pedantic* or 'laboured'). In other words, the acquisition of culrural 
competence is inseparable from insensible acquisition of a 'sense' for 
sound cultural investment. 
This investment sense, being the product of adjustment to the objec- 
chances of turning competence to good account, facilitates forward 
culr JStmCm ro thcsc cha nees, and is irself a dimension of a relation to 
a- L rc> ~ciOse or distant, off hand or reverential, hedonistic or aca- 
tw which is the internalized form of the objective relationship be- 
of ju r c s ' te °f acquisition and the 'centre of cultural values*. The use 
balan * C sense °^ investment', as in 'sense of propriety' or 'sense of 
carjo * 1S ,nten ded to indicate that, when, for the purposes of objectify 
• terms are borrowed from the language of economics, it is in no 

way suggested that the corresponding behaviour is guided by rational 
calculation of maximum profit, as the ordinary usage of these concept 
no doubt mistakenly, implies. Culture is the site, par excellence, Q f 
misrecognition, because, in generating strategies objectively adapted ta 
the objective chances of profit of which it is the product, the sense of fa, 
vestment secures profits which do not need to be pursued as profits; and 
so k brings to those who have legitimate culture as a second nature the 
supplementary profit of being seen (and seeing themselves) as perfectly 
disinterested, unblemished by any cynical or mercenary use of culture 
This means that the term 'investment*, for example, must be understood 
in the dual sense of economic investment — which it objectively always j s 
though misrecognized — and the sense of affective investment which ( t 
has in psychoanalysis, or, more exactly, in the sense of Hlmto, belief, an 
involvement in the game which produces the game. The art-lover knows 
no other guide than his love of art, and when he moves, as if by instinct, 
towards what is, at each moment, the thing to be loved, like some busi- 
nessmen who make money even when they are not tiying to, he is not 
pursuing a cynical calculation, but his own pleasure, the sincere enthusi- 
asm which, in such matters, is one of the preconditions of successful in- 

So, forexample, it is true that the effect of the hierarchies of legitimacy 
(rhe hierarchy of the arts, of genres etc.) can be described as a particular 
case of the labelling' effect well known to social psychologists. Just as 
people see a face differently depending on the ethnic label it is given, so 
the value of the arcs, genres, works and authors depends on the social 
marks attached to them at any given moment (e.g., place of public*- 
rion). But the fact remains rhar the arHover's sense of cultural invest- 
ment which leads him always to love what is lovable, and only that, and 
always sincerely, can be supported by unconscious deciphering of the 
countless signs which at every moment say what is to be loved and what 
is not, what is or is not to be seen, without ever being explicitly oriented 
by pujsuit of the associated symbolic profits. The specific competence n 
classical music or jarz, theatre or film ere.) depends on the chances which 
the different markets, domescic, scholastic or occupational, together oner 
for accumulating, applying and exploring it, i.e., the degree to whicn 
they encoutage acquisition of this competence by promising or guaran- 
teeing it profits which will reinforce it and induce new investments. Tr»c 
chances of using cultural competence profitably in the different marW*; 
play a part, in particular, in defining the propensity to make 'seholasrit 
investments and also the investments in extra-curricular 'general cU 
ture' which seem to owe nothing to the constraints or incentives of 

The more legitimate a given area, the more necessary and profitable 
is to be competent in ii, and the more damaging and 'costly* to be I 
competent. 1 * 1 Bur this does not suffice to explain why it is that, as o 

, rt to wards the most legitimate areas, rhe statistical differences related 

f" i cat ional capital become increasingly important, whereas the more 

f ° moves towards the lease legirimate areas, which might seem to be the 

° n . f ^e and inexplicable choice, such as cooking or interior decora- 

fC choice °f founds or furniture, the more important are the statistical 

rt& rences linked to social trajectoiy (and capital composition), with rhe 

rhat are undergoing legitimation, such as 'intellectual' song, pho- 

3 raphv or J a2Zt 0CCU P vm g an intermediate position. Here too, ir is in 

h reJario n sh'P between the properties of the field (in particular, the 

i ces of negative or positive sanctions it offers 'on average', for any 

\ and (he properties of the agent, that the 'efficacy' of these proper* 

f >« is defined. Thus both the propensity towards 'non-academic' invest 

menrs and the area to which they are directed depend, srricrly speaking, 

not on the average 1 rare of profit offered by the area in question but on 

rhe f ate of profit it offers each agent or particular category of agents in 

terms of the volume and composition of their capital. 

The hierarchy of 'average' rates of profit broadly corresponds to the hi- 
erarchy of degrees of legitimacy, so that knowledge of classical or even 
avant-garde literarure yields higher 'average* profits, in rhe scholastic 
market and elsewhere, than knowledge of cinema, or, a fortiori, srrip car- 
toons,, detective stories or sport. But the specific profits, and the conse- 
quent propensities to invest, are only defined in the relationship between 
a field and a particular agent with particular characteristics. For example, 
those who owe most of their cultural capiral to the educational system, 
such as primary and secondary teachers originating from the working and 
middle classes, are particularly subject ro the academic definition of legiti 
macy, and tend to proportion their investments very strictly co the value 
the educational system sets on the different areas. 

By contrast, 'middle-ground' arts such as cinema, jazz, and, even more, 
strip cartoons, science fiction or detective stories are predisposed to at- 
tract the investments either of those who have entirely succeeded in con- 
verting <heir cultural capiral into educational capital or those who, not 
naving acquired legitimate culture in the legitimate manner (i.e., 

j-° u gh early familiarization), maintain an uneasy relationship with it, 
icctively or objectively, or both. These arrs, not yet fully legitimate, 

1 C «- arC *^ s ^ a - nc ^ or neglected by the big holders of educational capi- 
eu u r 3 ,e S e and a revenge to those who, by appropriating them, se- 
trie best return on their cultural capiral (especially if ir is nor fully 
tescto" scholastically) while at the same rime taking credit for con- 
w Dr j ■ K ^ c esrablished hierarchy of legitimacies and profits In other 
us uallv p ro p ens ity ro apply to the middle-ground arts a disposition 
W*.j*J eser fr* rnc legitimate arts — that measured, for example, by 
^a n ^ ^ m directors— depends less closely on educarional capital 
system ° 3 w}>0 - c relationship to scholastic culrure and the educational 
which j rse ]f d C p Cnc i s on the degree to which the cultural capiral 

possessed consisrs solely of the capital acquired in and recognized by >t 
educacionaJ system. (Thus, members of the new petite bourgeoisie l ^ 
generally inherited more cultural capital than the primary teache rs l e 
possess much the same educational capital: they know many more d{ r * * 
tors but fewer composers) 

In fact, one can never entirely escape from the hierarchy of legitj m 
cies. Because the very meaning and value of a cultural object varies 1/ 
cording to rhe system of objects in which it is placed, detective stories 
science fiction or strip cartoons may be entirely prestigious cultural as$e/ 
or be reduced to their ordinary value, depending on whether they are &» 
sociated wirh avant-garde literature or music — in which case they appea 
as manifestations of daring and freedom— Or combine to form a constd. 
lation typical of middle-brow taste — when they appear as what they are 
simple substitutes for legitimate assets. 

Given that each social space — family or school, for example—f Unc . 
tions both as one of the sites where competence is produced and as one of 
the sites where it is given its price, one might expect each field to set the 
highest price on the products created within it. Thus one might expect 
the scholastic field to give the highest value to scholastically certified cul- 
tural capiral and the scholastic modality, whereas the markets dominated 
by extra-scholastic values— 'society' salons and dinners, or all the occa- 
sions of professional life (appointment interviews, board meetings, con- 
ferences etc) or even academic life (oral examinations at ENA or 
Sciences Po, for example), in which the whole person is evaluated— 
would set the highest value on the familiar relation ro eulrure, devaluing 
all the dispositions and competences which bear the mark of scholastic 
acquisition. But this would be to ignore rhe effects of domination 
wheteby the products of rhe scholastic mode of production may be de- 
valued as 'scholastic* in the scholastic market itself. 82 Indeed, rhe clearest 
sign of the heteronomy of the scholastic marker is seen in its ambivalent 
treatment of rhe products of the 'scholastic' habitts, which vanes in- 
versely with the autonomy of the educational system as a whole (variable 
at difTerenr times and in different countries) and of its constituent insti- 
tutions, with respect ro the demands of the dominant fraction of the 
dominant class.** 5 

What is certain is that there exists an immediate affinity between P* 
dispositions that are acquired by familiarization with legitimate culture 
and the 'high-society' market (or the most 'high-society* sectors of rtl 
educational market). The ordinary occasions of social life exclude rests I 
brutal as a closed questionnaire, the limiring case of the scholastic exarfl 
nation which the scholasric institution itself refuses whenever, impli clt ■ 
accepting the high-society depreciation of the 'scholastic', it turns an c r 
amination intended to verify and measure competence into a variant 
high-society conversation. In contrast to rhe most 'scholastic* of scho 
ric situations, which aim to disarm and discourage strategies of blu • 
high-society occasions give unlimited scope to an art of playing *■ 

which is to competence what 'play' is to the 'hand' m card 

cotf^^h accomplished socialite chooses his terrain, sidesteps difficul- 

g^ 5 ' questions of knowledge inro questions of preference, igno- 

tic5» rurnS disdainful refusal— a whole set of strategies which may 

rJrt ce l sc )f.assurance or insecurity, ease or embarrassment, and which 

rtiani'^ 51 uc y l on mode of acquisition and rhe corresponding familiar- 

dep 01 ,- tance as on educational capital. In other words, the lack of deep, 

10 Ct r *i systematic knowledge in a particular area of legitimate cul- 

■ no w ay prevents nlm ' rom sansrying the cultural demands en- 

tU f a Kv most social situations, even in the quasi-scholastic siruation of a 

t3l * c ife 

asking questions about painters in such a way that the knowledge 
T med could not be verified m any way, rhe aim was not o much to mea- 

rc the specific competence (which, one may assume, depends on the same 
factors u knowledge of composers) as to grasp indirectly the relationship to 
keirirnate culture and the differential effects of the suc^ey situation. Thus, 
respondents who e knowledge was not equal to their familiarity may have 
felt entitled ro use strategies of bluff which are highly successful in rhe or- 
dinary u es of culture (rhis is particularly rhe case with rhe new petite 
bourgeoisie). But blurt itself is only profitable if it is guided by the vague 
knowledge given by familiarity, Thus,- while the room for manoeuvre in 
rhis question allowed the least competent to fasten on proper names which 
corrc pond neirher to knowledge nor preference, such as Picasso (men- 
tioned by 21 percenr of the unskilled and emi-skilled workers) or Braque 
(10 percent), who was being celebrated in various ways at the time of the 
survey^ it also functioned a a trap with Rousseau (10 percenr), who was 
practically never mentioned by the or her dasse and was probably confused 
with che writer. (Breughel, by conrrasr, was never mentioned by rhe un- 
skilled and semi-skilled, no doubt because they would nor risk pronouncing 
1 ^ me rhey were not likely to have heard.) 

o bring to light rhis 'society sense', generally associated with strong in- 
j cultural capital bur irreducible to a sum of strictly verifiable knowN 

p C ' anc on 'y has to compare the variations in two dimensions of cultural 
isnf T flr7 0SSC Slon Q ^ s P ec 'fK knowledge of compo ers and the 'flair' which 
flauh t0 malcC " P ronra k' c ' measured by the capacity to recognize what 
foed %* would nave called the 'smart opinions' among rhe statements of- 
ki°w th^ UfC 4 corre ' ates rnc proportion of individuals in each category who 
P°rtion c /" 0m Pp SCfs °f at 'cast twelve of the musical works wirh the pro- 
classical k° C /* ,m that a ' 3srract P ainr 'ng interests them as much as the 
fjerer^ c hool$\ On the one hand there are rhe fractions whose strict com- 
higher^d £ rcater tJ> an r *" lC ' r ef ise of the 'right* answer (secondary and 
3 : uma Ce UC2c,on tCa chers), and on the other, tho e whose sense of the le- 
r «« bou^T 8 ?^ ,s incommensurate with their specific comperence (new pe* 
3m ° n £ rhV°' Sie> nCw bourgeoisie, artistic producers). The gap is smallest 
^'"'^rativ nS,n ^ P e ^ r bourgeois or bourgeois (primary teachers, junior ad- 

k was r eXccut ^s» engineer , senior pubhe-sector executives). 

n( x possible to u e rhe opinions selected on music because — unlike 

Figure 4 Specific competence and talk about art. 








Simfflertt; 'AbftfKt punimg 

interests mc a* rnvch *. the ttisucsj sthooli ' 

XttliM produces * 

higher- edyraiioo icvhea ( 

• tr. craftsmen 

priv»te-S*C«>! rMCtKUtt 

medico socitl *ctwJc?j 
secretaries - induJifiaJiiTS 

« lUftW # g 

technicians • 

commwciaJ >^ b«i <■ pmmereial employers 

* ]un w mdrrUftumitvc cttcufwi 

• secondary leathers 

• professions 
puWic-secfOfeMtticivej, en£i(\«» 

Competence: fcno* ) 2 e* «»<f 

office workers 







manual worker* 
smalt shopkeepers 


the sec of statements on painting, which offered an intermediate opinio^ l 
love the Impressionists 1 )— the range of possible judgements presented l0 °. 
great a discontinuity between the typically middle-brow opinion (*I like r 
Strauss waltzes') and the chic opinion ('All music of quality interests "*. ' 


so that rhe choice of the most legitimate judgement became more temp 
for all those who refused to make do with a too visibly naive' judgemef^ 

<jj st aste which bourgeois agents (especially rhose in decline) man- 
( everything 'scholastic* is no doubt partly explained by the 
'^ sC ion which the scholastic market inflicts, nonetheless, on the ap- 
^ c ne knowledge and confused intuitions of familiarity. For exam- 
? i0%i >,- rejection of academic routine which underlies most of the 
p) e > = ons of rhe new cul rural intermediaries (youth organizers, play 
l0l j ere ) * s morc easily understood if one knows that rhe established 
^ 3 bou r £eoisic ^ as re ' ac ^ ve ^y high educational capital and a relatively 
r* u c ultural inheritance, whereas the new petite bourgeoisie (of which 
w s are the limiting case) has a strong cultural inheritance and rela- 
**■ ]y low educational capital, The Parisian or even provincial primary 
verier, who can beat the small employer, the provincial doctor or the 
Parisian antique-dealer in rhe tests of pure knowledge, is likely to appear 
incomparably inferior to them in all the situations which demand self- 
assurance or flair, or even the bluff which can cover lacunae, rather than 
the prudence, discretion and awareness of limirs that are associated with 
scholastic acquisition. One can confuse Bernard Buffet with Jean Dubuf- 
fet and yet be quite capable of hiding one's ignorance under the com 
monplaces of celebration or the knowing silence of a pout, a nod or an 
inspired pose; one can identify philosophy with Saint-fixupeiy, Teilhatd 
deChardin or even leprince-Ringuet, and still hold one's own in today's 
most prestigious market-place? — receprions, conferences, interviews, de- 
bates, seminars, committees, commissions so long as one possesses the 
ser of distinctive features, bearing, posture, presence, diction and pronun- 
ciation, manners and usages, without which, in these markets at least, all 
scholastic knowledge is worth little or nothing and which, partly because 

schools never, or never fully, teach them, define the essence of bourgeois 


Educationally equivalent individuals (e,g„ the students of the grawki ccobi) 
iar ^7" crr ^ ca l'y as regards bodily hexis, pronunciation, dress or familiar- 
t p n W legitimate culture, not to mention the whole set of specific compe- 
*o y capacities which function as admission tickers to the bourgeois 
Thcsr* fc- 3S c ' an<: ' n & tne rarc sports, Of parlour games (especially bridge) , 
hcln S through the encounters they provide and the social capital they 
— i^J^aGcumulare, no doubt explain subsequent differences in career. 

Th ' ^ 

and ex ma " ncr which designares the infallible taste of the 'taste-maker' 
is so . P 0565 the uncertain tastes of the possessors of an 'ill-gotten' culture 
the va] ° oTtan *» in all markecs and especially in the market which decides 
part of th Cfac y ar| d arristic wotks, only because choices always owe 
ttn c, th e>r . value to rhe value of the chooser, and because, to a large ex- 
°f cho os * uc makes itself known and recognized through rhe manner 
^imate"^ ^at * s ^ eamr through immersion in a worlld in which lc 
culture is as natural as the air one breathes is a sense of the legit 

imarc choice so sure of itself char ir convinces by rhc sheer manner of 
performance, like a successful bluff". Ir is nor only a sense of the right a 
ro invest in, direcrors rarher than actors, the avant-garde more than *? 
classical or, which amounts to the same thing, a sense of rhe right »*, 
menr ro invest or disinvest, to move into orher fields, when the gain* . 
distinction become roo uncertain. It is, ultimately, the sclfassuran J 
confidence, arrogance, which, normally being rhe monopoly of the i n j> 1 
viduals most assured of profit from their investments, has every Ijfc J* 
hood — in a world in which everything is a matter of belief — of imposin 
the absolute legitimacy, and therefore rhe maximum profitability r 
rheir investments. 

The paradox of the imposition of legitimacy is thar it makes it impos, 
sible ever ro determine whether rhe dominant feature appears as distm. 
guished or noble because it is dominant — i.e., because it has the privilege 
of defining, by its very existence, what is noble or distinguished as beim> 
exactly what itself is, a privilege which is expressed precisely in its self, 
assurance — Or whether it is only because ir is dominant that it appears as 
endowed with these qualities and uniquely entitled to define them. It u 
no accident rhar, to designate the legitimate manners or raste, ordinary 
language is content to say "manners' or *raste\ 'in the absolute sense', as 
grammarians say. The properties attached ro rhc dominant — Parts or Ox- 
ford 'accents** bourgeois 'distinction' etc. — have the power to discourage 
the intention of discerning what they are 'in reality', in and for them- 
selves, and the distinctive value they derive from unconscious referen« 
to their class distribution 

f actors ani> powers It is now clear that the difficulty of the analysis 
was due to the fact that what rhe very tools of analysis — educational level 
and social origin — designate is being fought our in struggles which have 
rhe object of analysis — art and the relarion to rhe work of art — as their 
prize in reality itself. These struggles are fought between those who a* 
identified with the scholastic definition of culture and the scholar 
mode of acquisition, and those who defend a 'non-institutional' cultuff 
and relarion to culture. The lattet, though mainly recruited from the ow* 
est sectors of rhe bourgeoisie, receive unquestioned support from writ#* 
and artists and from the charismatic conception of the production a* 1 
consumption of art, of which they are the inventors and guarantors w 
ties over aurhors and schools, which hold rhe limelight of the literary 
artistic stage, cone al more important struggles, such as those which <r 
pose teachers ffrom whose ranks, throughout rhe nineteenth centu'T* 
critics were often recruired) and writers, who rend ro be more C '? 5 T^ 
linked, by origin and 'connections', to the dominant fracrions of . 
dominant class, or rhe endless srruggles between the dominated fraC 
as a whole and the dominant fractions over the definition of the * cC 
plished man and the education designed to produce him- 

m p| C) what is at stake in the late-nineteenth-centuiy creation of 

*°. re ec j u carion giving great importance to sport — with, among 
* P n Edo uar d De™ ! 1 ^, the founder of the Ecole des Roches and dis 
° r 'u ri f fedenc Le Play, like Baron de Goubertin, another advocate of a 
^P i e f education — is the imposition of an aristocratic definition of 
nCW fion wirhin the academic institution itself. Knowledge, erudition, 
t '<cho^ :ic ' docility symbolized by 'barrack like T lycee (this is where 
ich- repeated theme originates), and all the criteria of assessment 
fable t0 tnc children of rhe petite bourgeoisie, through which the 

hrxjl affirm* its autonomy, areeonresred in the name of such Values' as 
, fffv' 'courage', *wiir, rhe virtues of the leader (of the army or busi- 
ficsy^zi thar time it was almost the same rhing) and, perhaps especially, 
^personal) initiative, baptized 'self-help' or 'enteiprise', all vittues linked 
orr To put 'education' before 'instruction', 'character' before 'intel- 
ligence', sport before culture is to asserr, withm rhe scholastic world it- 
self, the existence of a hierarchy irreducible to the specifically academic 
hierarchy which privileges the second term in each of these oppositions. 85 

These struggles are not confined to the past, as is shown by the exis- 
tence of two roures ro the senior positions in large firms, one leading 
from the Ecole des Roches or the major Jesuit colleges and great bour- 
geois lycees (in the l6th arrondissement) to the Law Faculty or, increas- 
ingly, to Sciences Po or HEC the other running from the ordinary 
provincial or Parisian lycee to the Ecole Polytechnicjue. 8 It is still more 
clearly s en in the opposition, at the level of the grandes ccoles, between 
two academic markets differing profoundly in the concent of the cultural 
competence demanded, in the value set on manners and the criteria used 
to evaluate them, with at one extreme rhe Ecole Normale Superieure 
(ENS) and Polytechnique and at rhe other Sciences Po and rhe Ecole 
Nationale d'Administration (ENA). These snuggles over the legitimate 
«ctinirton of culture and rhe legitimate way of evaluating it are only one 
J^ n j lon of the endless struggles which divide eveiy dominant class. 

hm c he virtues of rhe accomplished man the legitimate titles to the 
SSj. f domination are ar stake. Thus the glorification of 'character- 
»ng sp ft and the valorization of economic and political culture, at 

thro k^ . ''terary or artisric culture, are just two of the strategies 
d 'scred k** ^ C dominanr fractions of the dominant class aim to 
m [lt ' f the valu es recognized by the 'intellectual' fractions of the domi- 
friouslv" 5 3nd (hC ?* tlXC bour geoiSi'e— whose children compete dan- 

3ca( icmi A j children of the bourgeoisie on the rerrain of the most 
Airlift,* J defined academic competence. But more profoundly, these 
n,3 *i whJh^Z °* anti * infe ^ecrualism are only one aspect of an antago- 
Cu 'tMre C C ' f* T be y° nd ^e question of the legitimate uses of the body or 
****** rrJ?j S 0n cver y dimension of exisrence, the dominant fractions 

lc »t &of ° ro conceive their relationship to che dominated fracrions in 
e opposition between the mal and the female, the serious and 

the frivolous, the responsible and the irresponsible, the useful and l 
rile, the realistic and the unrealistic. ^% 

The principles of logical division which statistics uses to 


classes and the data it records abour them are therefore also prir>ci B i ^ 
'sociological* division. The statistical variations associated with th 
ively defined) two main variables — educational level and social n - W 
can only be correctly interpreted so long as if is remembered that th 
bound up with antagonistic definitions of legitimate culture and Je*** 
legitimate relation to culture, or, more precisely, with different marL 
in which the characteristics associated with one or the other ate given?' 
ferent prices. It would be wholly mistaken to locate in any one of rijl 
factor an 'efficacy' which only appear in a certain relationship and 
therefore be cancelled out or inverted in another field or another state f 
the same field. The dispositions constituting the cultivated habitus 
only formed, only function and ate only valid in a field, in the relation. 
ship with a field which, as Gaston Bachelard says of the physical field is 
itself a 'field of possible forces', a 'dynamic situation', 87 in which fb r ' CCs 
are only manifested in their relationship with cerrain dispositions. This is 
why the same pracrices may leceive opposite meanings and values in dif- 
ferent fields, in different configurations or in opposing sectors f the 
same field. 

So reflective analysis of the tools of analysis is not an epistemological 
scruple but an indispensable ptc-condirion of scientific knowledge of the 
object. Poskivist laziness leads the whole, purely defensive, eftorr of veri- 
fication to be focussed on the intensity of rhc relationships found, instead 
of bringing questioning to bear on the veiy conditions of measurement 
of the relationships, which may even explain the relarive intensity of the 
different relationships. In order to believe in rhe independence of the 'in- 
dependent variables' of positivist methodology, one has to be unawat 
that "explanatory factors 1 are also powers' which aieonly valid and opera- 
tive in a certain field, and that rhey Therefore depend on the struggles 
which are fought, within each field, to transform the price-forming 
mechanisms which define it. If it is easy to imagine fields in which the 
weight of the two dominant 'factors* would be inverted (and tests whrt° 
would be the experimental expression of this, giving greater prominency 
for example, to less 'scholastic* objects and forms of questioning), th ,s ! 
because what is ultimately ar stake in everyday struggles over culture 
rhe transformation of the price-forming mechanisms defining the wWJ 
values of the cultural productions associated with educational cap 1 
and social trajectory (and the primary variables through which they 

If it is true that the statistical relationships between rhe proper* 1 ** 
tached to agents and their practices arc only fully defined in the rels* 1 
ship between the dispositions of a habitus and a particular field, then 
limits within which the telations observed retain their validity — afl ™ 

ion which is the pre-condition for full generalization — can- 

*:&* ^r nc d unf il onc M ucsr '° ns * nc relationship within which these 

Sot k c • s have been established. The relationship sec up by a closed 

,]ati oflS ■ mainiy devoted to legitimate culture is akin to that of an 



n (albeit without any institutional sanction at srake); and it is 
€%v ^ nZ ho j a stic market what a market-place, as a real-world site of ex- 
to rhc 5 • r0 the market of economic theory. Both in its subject matter 
£ hai£ cS ' fo :m of exchange it imposes (a questioning, which, as Charles 
ifP ,n j always implies a form of intrusion, violence, challenge — 
he attenuations which normally accompany it), a survey by ques* 
k ctl ■ / ^rvciallv when it takes the form of methodical, asymmetrical 
oarion, is the complete opposite or ordinary conversation; it has 
im ; n common with the cafe or campus discussions in which the 

• nrer-culture' is constructed, or the high-society chatrer which shuns 
^j mk precision and didactic insistence. The variations one observes in 
h relative weight of educational qualification and inherited cultural 
ta j as one moves, within this quasi-scholastic situation, from what is 
mjrc academic in form and content to what is less academic either in 
form (questions measuring familiarity without resting knowledge) or in 
con rent (questions on knowledge of the cinema or preferences in cook- 
ing) give some idea of rhis relationship between 'factors' and markets. 

All the indices {difficult to obtain by questionnaire) of the manner of 
applying, showing or exploiting competence {self-assurance, arrogance, 
off -handedness, modesty, earnestness, embarrassment etc.) srricrly de- 
pend, fa their meaning and value, on the market in which they arc 
placed, because they are the visible rraces of a mode of acquisition (do 
mesne or scholastic), i.e., a market; and also because all the markets 
*hich arc able to assert their autonomy of scholastic control give them 
priority. The emphasis on manners> and through them on mode of ac- 
quisition, enables seniority within a class to be made the basis of the hier- 
archy within the class;*" it also gives the recognized possessors of the 
egic«m a ce manner an absolute, arbitrary power to recognize or exclude, 
of T^' J'.'kfi 11 "* "' on ^ cxisrs for others, and the recognized holders 
ru/ j e £* cim * |)e manner and of the power to define the value of man- 
thJT~ < ^' e ^ bearing, pronunciation — have rhe privilege of indifference to 
th c l ° Wn manner (so tbey never have to put on a manner). By contrasr, 
tarv pafVenuS wno piesume to join the group of legirimare, i.e , heredi- 
thes^ >iSCSs0rs °^ legirimare manner, without being the product of 
l*se a SOc ' a ^ conditions, are trapped, whatever they do, in a choice be- 
<fefeat anX '° us hyper-identification and the negativity which admits its 
wh 0se lts vcr y revolt; either the conformity of an 'assumed' behaviour 
°$teiu ^ corrcctne ss or hyper -correctness betrays an imitation, or the 
mi ssio ° US asSert ' 0n of difference which is bound ro appear as an ad 

B, Ca n u °'^ abi l'fy to identify. 90 

fbey are acquired in social fields which are also markets in 

which rhcy receive rheir price, cultural comperences are depends 
rhese markers, and aJJ struggles over culture are aimed ar creatine 0ty 
market most favourable to rhe products which are marked, in their c 
nets, by a particular class of conditions of acquisition, i.e., a p arf - a ^ 
market Thus, what is nowadays called rhe 'counter-culrure' may ty.ii T 
the product of the endeavour of new-sryie autodidacts to free therrisH 
from the constraints of the scholastic market (ro which the less c ? 
dent old-style autodidacrs continue to submit, although it conder** 
their products in advance). They strive to do 50 by producing annr^ 
market, with its own consecraring agencies, rhat is, like the high-soc' 
or intellectual markers, capable of challenging the pretension of theed 
carional system to impose the principles of evaluation of competes 
and manners which reign in the scholastic marker, or ar least i ts _ 
'scholastic sectors, on a perfecrly unified market in cultural goods. 

jl T^je Economy 
of Practices 

But on things whose rules and principles had been in- 
stilled into her by her mother, on the way to make cer- 
tain dishes, to play Beethoven's sonatas, to 'receive' with 
cordiality, she was quite sure that she had a right idea of 
perfection and of discerning how far others approximated 
to it. For rhese three things, moreover, perfection was 
almost the same, a kind of simplicity in the means, a 
sobriety and a charm. She repudiated with horror the in- 
troduction of spices in dishes that did not absolutely 
require them, affeaarion and abuse of the pedaJs in piano- 
playing, departure from perfect naturalness, and exag- 
gerated ralking of oneself in deceiving.' From the first 
mouthful, from the Erst notes, from a simple letter she 
preened herself on knowing if she had ro deal with a 
good cook, a real musician, a woman propedly brought 
up. *She may have many more fingers than I, but she 
lacks taste, playing rhac very simple Ana'ante with so 
much emphasis.' 'No doubt a most brilliant woman full 
of parts, but it is a want of tact to speak of oneself in 
such a case.' 'Possibly a very knowing cook, but she does 
not know how to do steak and fried potatoes.' Steak and 
fried potatoes, an ideal competition-piece, a kind of culi- 
nary Pathetic Sonata, a gastronomic equivalent to what is 
in social life the visit of a lady who comes for a servant's 
'characrer' and who, in an acr as simple as that, can suffi- 
ciently display the presence or absence of tact and 

Marcel Proust, Days of Reading 

T$)e Social Space and 
Its Transformations 

If rhc research had stopped ar this point it would probably not raise great 
objections, so self-evident is the idea of the irreducibility of artistic taste 
However, as has already been shown by the analysis of the social condi- 
tions of the aesthetic disposition, rhe dispositions which govern choices 
between the goods of legitimate cultuie cannot be fully understood un- 
less they are reintegrated into the system of dispositions, unless 'culture', 
in the restricted, normative sense of ordinary usage, is reinserted into 
Vulture' in rhe broad, anthropological sense and the elaborated taste for 
the most refined objects is broughr back into relation with the elemen- 
*a*y taste for the flavours of food. 1 The dual meaning of rhe word 'taste*, 
which usually serves to justify the illusion of* spontaneous generation 
which this cultivated disposition tends ro produce by presenting itself in 

£ uJse of an innate disposition, must serve, for once, ro remind us that 
taste tn the sense of the faculty of immediately and intuitively judging 
^sdit;r ic va 'ues ? is inseparable from taste in the sense of the capacity to 

cern the flavours of foods which implies a preference for some of 
abstraction which isolates dispositions towards legitimate cul- 
r w ds f0 a further abstraction at the level of the system of explana- 
for k^ t0rS " w ^ cn ' 'bough always presenr and acrive, only offers itself 
the rvar, °n through those elements (cultural capital and trajectory in 
fiejj c analysed below) which are the principles of its efficacy in the 

Tk!! 1 q ' ucs ^ on 
case / on5um P f i on of the most legitimate cultural goods is a particular 
<i°uh corri P c tition for rare goods and practices, whose particularity no 
°^e$ more ro the logic of supply, i.e., the specific form of compe- 

rition between the producers, than to the logic of demand and castes 
rhc logic of competition between the consumeis One only his / % 
move rhe magical barrier which makes legitimate culture into a set**" 
univeise, in order to see intelligible relationships between choices 
seemingly incommensurable as preferences in music or cooking, ^ * 
politics, literature or hairstyle. This barbarous reintegration of acsth^ 
consumption into the world of ordinary consumption (against whi c k « c 
endlessly defines itself) has, inter alia, rhe virtue of reminding us that *J~ 
consumption of goods no doubt always ptesupposes a labour of aph 
prianon, to different degrees depending on the goods and the consujw 
or, more precisely, that rhe consumer helps to produce the product C 
consumes, by a labour of identification and decoding which, in the ca> 
of a work of art, may constitute the whole of the consumption andgn t 
fication, and which requires time and dispositions acquired over timt 
Economists, who never jib at an abstraction, can ignore what happens 
to products in the relationship with the consumers, that is, with the dis- 
positions which define their useful properties and real uses. To hypothe- 
size, as one of them does, that consumers perceive the same decisive 
attributes, which amounts to as uming that producrs possess objective 
or, as they are known, 'technical' characteristics which can impress them- 
selves as such on all perceiving subjects, is to proceed as if perception 
only seized on the characteristics de ignated by the manufacturers* bro- 
chures (and so-called 'informative* publicity) and as if social uses could 
be derived from the operating instructions Objects, even industrial prod- 
ucts, are not objective in the ordinary sense of the word, i.e., independent 
of the interest and tastes of those who perceive them, and they do not 
impose the self-evidence of a universal, unanimously approved meaning. 
The sociologist's task would be much easier if, when faced with each rela- 
tionship between an 'independent variable' and a 'dependent variable', be 
did not have to determine how the perception and appreciation of whit 
is designated by the 'dependent variable' vary according ro the classes de- 
termined by the 'independent variable', or, in other words, identify th* 
system of perrinent features on the basis of which each of the classes or 
agents was really determined. 2 What science has to establish is the objec- 
tivity of the object which is established in rhe relationship between an 
object defined by the possibilities and impossibilities it offers, which & 
only revealed in the world of social use (including, in the case of a teen* 
nical object, the use or function for which it was designed) and the &* 
positions of an agent or class of agents, that is, the schemes of perception; 
appreciation and action which constitute its objective utility in a p nCtl 
cal usage. 1 The aim is not, of course, to reinf roduce any form of "^^i 
called 'lived experience', which is most often merely a thinly disgt« lS ?~ 
projection of the researcher's 'lived experience*; 4 bur to move beyond tn 
abstract relationship between consumers with interchangeable tastes & 
products with uniformly perceived and appreciated properties to the I* , 
rionship between tastes which vaiy in a necessaty way according to f ^ 

j economic conditions of production, and the products on 
tfCid a confer their different social identities. One only has to ask the 
^h^* 1 r w hich economists strangely ignore, of the economic conditions 
qa& tl ° ' jyctjon of the dispositions demanded by the economy, i.e., in 

fnie r % . question of the economic and soda) detetminants of tastes, 
■ j S case. 

3 sC f ij^enrial experiences which the consumers have of it as a func- 

c ' lJ he necessity of including in the complete definition of the prod- 

u f the dispositions they derive from their position in economic 
''° These experiences do nor have to be felr in order ro be undersrood 
^*h n understanding w hich may owe nothing to lived experience, still 
*' (a sympathy. ^ nc na ^' tus » an objective relarionship between two ob- 
* . {C$ C naWcs an intelligible and necessary relation to be established 
L weefi practices and a situation, the meaning of which is produced by 
. habitus through categories of perception and appreciation that are 
hemsclves produced by an observable social condition. 

Class Condition and Social Conditioning 

Because it can only account for practices by bringing to light successively 
the series of eflccrs which underlie them, analysis initially conceals rhe 
structure of the life-sryle characteristic of an agent or class of agents, thar 
is, rhe uniry hidden under the diversity and multiplicity of the set of 
practices per formed in fields governed by different logics and therefore 
inducing different forms of reafoarion, in accordance with the formula: 
[(habitus) (capital)] *f field = practice. It also conceals the structure of 
the symbolic space marked out by the whole set of these structured prac- 
tices, all the distinct and distinctive life-styles which are always defined 
objectively and sometimes subjectively in and through rhcit mutual rela- 
tionships. So it is necessary ro reconstruct what ha been taken apart, first 
by way of verification but also in order to rediscover the kernel of truth 
in the approach characteristic of common sense knowledge, namely, the 
mtumon of the systematic nature of life styles and of the whole set which 
they constitute To do this, one must return to the practice-unifying 
and practice-generating principle, i.e., class habitus, the internalized form 
of class condition and of the conditionings it entails. One must therefore 
co Sttuct t h c ohjeaht class, the set of agents who are placed in homogene- 
Prod" " 5 °^ cx 'Stence imposing homogeneous conditionings and 

ij ... ,n £ homogeneous systems of dispositions capable of generating 
p r0 r practices, and who possess a set of common properrie , objectified 
Powell e5 ' somcr ' m cs legally guaranteed (as posse sion of goods and 
te ni5 r°, r P^P^ties embodied as class habitus (and, in particular, sys- 
ot classificatory schemes)/' 

f c W T AN ° SYSTEMS OH variables Inde ignatmg these classes 

classy ? agents or, which amounts to the same thing in this context, 

conditions of existence) by the name of an occupation, one is 

merely indicating rhar rhe position in the relations of productio n 
ems practices, in particular through the mechanisms which conrroj ^° v * 
to positions and produce or selecr a particular class of habitus. By t 3 
is not a way of reverting to a pre<onsrructed variable such as w 1 * 
occupational category*. The individuals grouped in a class rhat is c 
Stmered in a particular respect (rhat is, in a particularly determin anr 
specr) always bring with them, in addition to the pertinent properties k 
which they are classified, secondary properties which are thus smupjviJ! 
into the explanatory model This means rhar a class or class fraction 
defined not only by its position in the relations of production, as idem 
fied through indices such as occupation, income or even educational 
level, but also by a certain sex-ratio, a certain distribution in geographi Ca i 
space (which is never socially neutral) and by a whole set of subsidiary 
characteristics which may funcrion, in the form of racir requirements •$ 
real principles of selection or exclusion without ever being formall* 
stated (this is the case with ethnic origin and sex) A number of official 
ctitcria in facr serve as a mask for hidden critetia: for example, the requir- 
ing of a given diploma can be a way of demanding a particular social 

One needs to examine what the list of rhe criteria used by the analyst de 
rives from the state of chc struggle between the groups separated by these 
crireria, or mote precisely from the capacity of groups defined by these cri- 
teria! co get themselves recognized as such. There would be less likelihood 
of forgetting that unskilled workers are to a large extent women and immi' 
grants if groups based on sex or nationality of origin had constituted them- 
selves as such within the working class. Furthermore, the fallacy of the 
apparent facror would nor be so frequent if it were not the simple rctransla- 
tion onto the terrain of science of rhe legitimating strategies whereby 
groups tend to put forward this or that legitimate property, the overt prin- 
ciple of their constitution, to camouflage the real basis of their existence. 
Thus the most selective groups (a concerr audience or the students of a 
gran de ecole) may doubly conceal the real principle of their selection: by 
declining to announce the real ptinciples of their existence and their repro- 
duction, they are obliged to rely on mechanisms which lack rhe specific, sys- 
tematic rigour of an explicit condition of entry and therefore allow 
exceptions (unlike clubs and alt 'elites' based on co-option, they cannot vet 
the whole set of properties of the 'elect', i.e., the total person). 

The members of groups based on co-option, as are most of the corps p* " 
tected by an overt or covert numents clamm (doctors, architects, professors, 
engineers etc) always have something else in common beyond the charac- 
teristics explicitly demanded. The common image of the professions, w ^ lC 
is no doubt one of the teal determinants of 'vocations', is less absrracr » nd 
unreal than that presented by statisticians; it rakes into account not only 
the nature of the job and rhe income, bur those secondaiy characteristic 
which are often the basis of their social value (prestige or discredit) and 

jjh absent from rhe official job description, function as tacit re- 
^hich* "* suc h as age, sex, social or ethnic origin, overtly or implicitly 
qU'^" 11 option choices, from entry inro rhe profession and right through 
u jdirt£ ^ it members of the corps who lack these traits are excluded ot 
% career . - ^ /0mcn doctors and lawyers tending ro be restricted to a fe- 
rn*rg ,n ? l [C | C an d black doctors and lawyers to black clients or research). 
^ C the property emphasized by the name used to designate a care- 
l fl s ^suai^y occupation, is liable to mask the effect of all the secondary 
gpW* which although consritutive of the category, are not expressly 

" « torly wncn onc is u Y^ n £ t0 asscss tnc evolution of a social category 
. J f ;6ed by occupation), crude errors are inevitable if, by considering 

l "one of the pertinent properties;, one ignoies all the substitution effects 
° n ! hich the evolution is also expressed. The collective trajectory of a social 
"J ^y \x manifested in the fact that ii is becoming 'feminized' or 'mas* 
C u l ini zed,' g r ° wing older or young, getting poorer or richer. (The decline 
lf a position mayl>e manifested either in 'feminization' — which may ^ ac- 
companied by a rise in social origm— or in 'democratization' or in 'agemg',) 
The same would be true of any group defined by reference to a position in 
t field— e.g., a universiry discipline in the hierarchy of disciplines, a title of 
nobility in the atistocratic hierarchy, an educational qualification in the aca- 
demic hierarchy. 

The particular relations between a dependent variable (such as polirical 
opinion) and so-called independent vatiables such as sex, age and reli- 
gion, or even educational level, income and occupation tend to mask the 
complete system of relationships which constitutes the true principle of 
the specific strength and form of the effects registered in any particular 
correlation. The most independent of 'independent' variables conceals a 
whole network of statistical relations which are present, implicitly, in its 
relationship with any given opinion or practice. Here too, instead of ask- 
m g statistical technology ro solve a problem which it can only displace, it 
is necessary to analyse rhe divisions and variations which the different sec- 
ondary variables {sex, age etc ) bring into the class defined by the main 
variable, and consider eveiything which, though ptesent in the real defi- 
nition of the class, is not consciously taken into account in the nominal 
definition, the one summed up in the name used to designate it, or 
heftfore in interpreting the relationship in which it is placed 

the t f ^ C ^ a ' sc independence between scxalled independent variables is 
tot orH Cl< L nS ^ ^ >Crwecn educational qualification and occupation. This is 
r 'onil ^ • auSC ' at ^ casi ' n some arcas of social space (ro which educa- 
tyiakfie ? C3rtons give some degree of access), occupation depends on 
Su P£CK^ IQn ' ^ Ut a ^ SO ^cause cne cu ^ u ^»l capital which rhe qualification is 
suppo-- t0 guarantee depends on rhe holder's occupation, which may pre- 
Ot ^ r . ma intenanee or increase of che capita] acquired within the family 
°°1 (by and for promotion) or a diminishing of this capital (by 

'de-skilling' or 'de-qualification'). To this effect of occupational condi(j 
in which one has to distinguish the specific effect of the work which, hb^ 
vety nature, may demand a more or less great, more or less constant jn v J** 
ment of cultural capital, and therefore more or less continuous maintop 
of this capital, and the effect of the possible career which encourages or 
eludes cultural investments likely to assist or legitimate promotion— rnu. 
be added the effect of occupational milieu, i.e., the rcinforcemenr of disr^ 
tions (especially cultural, religious or political dispositions) by a group t L*'* 
is homogeneous In most of the respects which define it. Thus one wquU ' 
ha^e to examine in each case to what extent occupational conditions Q f e 
istence assist or hinder this effect, which would mean taking into account 
the characteristics of rlie work (unpleasantness etc.), the condirions in 
which it is performed — noise, or silence permitting conversation etc — ^ ^ 
temporal rhythms ic imposes, the spare time k allows, and especially the 
form of the horizontal or vertical relations it encourages at the workplace 
during work or in rest periods — or outside 

This effect no doubr explains a number of differences between office 
workers (ledger clerks, bank clerks, agency clerks, typists) and commercial 
employees (mainly shop assistants), which are not entirely accounrcd for 
either by differences hnked to class fraction of origin (office workers are 
rather more often the children of farmers; commercial employees the chil- 
dren of small employers) or by differences in educational capital (the first 
more often have the BEPC, the second a CAP). 

The commercial employees and the office workers, who ate distributed in 
much the same way as regards sex, age and income, are separated by impor- 
tant differences in dispositions and practices. Office wotkers are more as- 
cetic — they more often expecr their friends to be conscientious or well 
bcoughr up, more often prefer a neat, clean and tidy interior and like Brcl, 
Guc'tary, Mariano, the Hungarian Rhapsody, VArihienm, Raphael, Watteau 
and l^onardo. By contrast, commercial employees more ofren look for 
friends who are sociable, bons vivants, amusing and stylish, for a comfort- 
able, cosy mrerior, and prefer Brassens, Ferre\ Franchise Hardy, the Twiltgh, 
of the Godi, rhe Four Seasons, Rhafiod} in Blue, Urrillo or Van Gogh- 

Among the effects which the relationship berween class fracrion and prac* 
tices simultaneously reveals and conceals, there is also the cfTecr of the posi- 
tion in the distribution of the secondary properties attached to a class. 
Thus, members of the class who do nor possess all the modal properties — 
e.g., men in a strongly feminized occupation or a worker s son ar ENA— 
have their social identity deeply marked by this membership and rhe social 
image which it imposes and which they have to situate themselves in rc ' a 
tion ro, whether by acceptance ot rejection. 

Similarly, relationships such as those berween educational capital, or age* 
and income mask the relationship linking the rwo apparently independe nr 
variables. Age determines income ro an extent which vanes according ro 
educational capital and occupation, which is itself partly determined by edu 
cational capital and also by other, more hidden factors such as sex and «*• 
hcrired cultural or social capital. In anorher case, one of rhe variables is c ° 
degree merely a transformed form of the other. Thus, scholastic age (i.e., 
age at a given educational level) i& a transformed form of inherired euliu f 

A lost years a step towards relegation or elimination. More 
sP' ra V rhe educational capital held at a given moment expresses, among 
n eraJ'/< triC economic and social level of the family of origin. (This 
q$0 f n m a long process which is no way a mechanical relationship, since 
result 5 i tur ai capiral may be only partially converted into educational capi- 
in 1 " 3 v produce effects irreducible to those of educational cjualifkation, 
ral °* . j s whenever social origin distinguishes individuals whose qualifi- 
aS °'l are Anneal) 
c2ll °, vise in every relationship between educational capital and a given 

■ one sees the effect of the dispositions associated with gender which 
F 1 f! determine the logic of the reconversion of inherited capital into 

j jjiowl capital, that is, the 'choice' of 'he type of educational capital 
h will be obtained from the same initial capital, more often literacy for 

v more often scientific for boys. Again, the relationship of a given prac- 
- i * ace may conceal a relationship to educational capital when age is in 
tT che key to different modes of access to the position — by qualification or 
. n3 | promotion— and different school generations and diflcrcnr chances 
f access to the educational system (the oldest agents have lower educa- 
tional capital than the youngest), or to social class, by virtue of the differ- 
enr social definitions of precociousness or backwardness in the various areas, 
particularly in schooling, 

[n fact, the change in chances of access is only one aspect of a more sys- 
tematic change which also involves the very definition of competence, and 
tends to make compar isons between the generations increasingly difficult. 
The conflicts between holders of competences of different ages and different 
educational levels — old school-certificate holder versus new bachcim (bacca- 
laure'ar-holder) — cenrre precisely on rhe definition of competence, with the 
old generation complaining that the new generation does not possess the 
competences formerly defined as elementaty and basic: *Thcy can't spell 
nowadays', They can T r even add up' 

And finally, the variations in cultural practice by size of town of resi- 
dence cannot be ascribed to the direct effect of spatial distance and t lie 
variation? in the supply of culture, until it is confirmed that the differences 
persisr aftet discounting the eflccr of the inequalities in educational capital 
concealed (even in the occupational category) by geographical distribution, 
n e opposition between Paris and che provinces needs to be analysed in a 
^ similar to chat used for the notion of 'educational level'. Relationships 
evolving rnc variable 'place of residence' manifest not only the effect of 
cultural supply, linked to the density of objectified culrural capital and so 
^ c objective opportunities for cultutal consumption and the related re- 

° r menr f the aspiration to consume, bur also all the effects of the un- 
kJL T 2 distribution of properties and their owners (e.g., possessor of 
group ar '° nal ca P ira ')> in P arriciliar rhc circular reinforcemenr each 
c u i t ,v j omw on icsclf * for example, intensifying cultural practice if it is 
__^ateo\ discouraging ir by indifference or hostility if it is not. 

\*/hfn t 

rhe t ■ as often happens, the analysis is conducted variable by variable, 

ca crj of 2 n £ ct °f attributing to one of the variables (such as sex otage, 

which ma y CX p r ess in its own way the whole situation ot trend of 

a class) rhc effect of the set of variables (an error which is encoura&*j , 
rhe conscious or unconscious tendency to substitute generic aliens ' 
e.g., those linked to sex or age, for specific alienations, linked to ^u ^> 
Economic and social condition, as identified by occupation, gives a 
ciftc form to all the properties of sex and age, so that it is the efficacy 
the whole structure of factors associated with a position in social sea 
which is manifested in the correlations between age or sex and ptactir J 
The naivety of rhe inclination ro auribure rhe differences recorded in 
lation to age to a generic effect of biological ageing becomes self-e V id- C 
when one sees, for example, that the ageing which, in the privil Ce 1 
classes, is associated with a move to the right, is accompanied, arrion 
manual workers, by a move to the left. Similarly, in the relative precocitv 
of executives, measured for example by the age at which they reach 
given posirion, one sees in f acr the expression of everything which <j: 
vides them, despite the apparent identity of condition at a given ^ 
ment, namely rheir whole previous and subsequent trajectoiy, and the 
capital volume and structure which govern ir. 

constructed class Social class is not defined by a property (not CVCn 
rhe most determinant one, such as the volume and composition of capi- 
tal) nor by a collection of properties (of sex, age, social origin, erhnic 
origin — proportion of blacks and whites, for example, or natives and im- 
migrants — income, educational level etc.), nor even by a chain of proper- 
ties strung out from a fundamental properry (posirion in the relations of 
production) in a relation of cause and effect, conditioner and condi- 
tioned; but by the srructure of relations between all the pertinent proper- 
ties which gives its specific value to each of them and to the effects they 
exert on practices. 8 Constructing, as we have hete, classes as homo- 
geneous as possible wirh respect to the fundamental determinants of the 
material condirions of exisrence and the conditionings they impose, 
therefore means thar even in constructing the classes and in interpreting 
the variations of the distribution of properties and practices in relation to 
these classes, one consciously takes into account the network of second- 
ary characteristics which are more or less unconsciously manipulated 
whenever the classes are defined in terms of a single crirerion, even one as 
pertinent as occupation. It also means grasping the principle of the ob- 
jective divisions, i.e., divisions internalized or objectified in distinctly 
properties, on the basis of which the agents are mosr likely to divide a^d 
come together in realiry in their ordinaty practices, and also to mobile 
themselves or be mobilized (in accordance with the specific logic, Jinke** 
to a specific history, of the mobilizing organizations) by and for indivio j 
ual or collective political action. 

The principles of logical division which are used to produce the classes af c 
of course very unequally constituted socially in pre-existing social classifies* 

nc extreme, there is the simple exisrence of the name of a trade 
f|0 rts ** ca te£ory\ cne p r °duct of classification by a governmental agency, 
of ^'^ixjsEI: (J nsr ' rut national de ia scaristique et des eludes economi- 
yjch ** t (he social bargaining which leads co industrial 'collective agree- 
qti« s )', Q n< j ar rhe other extreme, there are groups possessing a real social 
(ISC* 1 ** recognized spokesmen and institutionalized channels for expressing 
'^j ftdins rneir ' meresfs ctc The secondaiy principles of division (such 
9fd dc f origin or sex), which are likely co be ignored by an ordinary 
aS cou r ■! rrie y serve as a basis for some form of mobilization, indicate 
a^ a 'y s ', . j lncs of division along which a group socially perceived as unitary 
p^wi ^^ ^^ j ess c j CC pjy anc j p Crm anently. Because the different factors 

.1 ,, niere 

i rhcir structuring force, these principles of division are themselves set 

' n sex or age') ^ c likely to be bound together less permanently and less 

hierarchy; groups mobilized on the basis of" a secondary criterion (such 

i ] y rrra n those mobilized on the basis of the fundamental determinants 
of their condition 

To account for the infinite diversity of practices in a way that is both 
unitary and specific, one has to break with linear thinking, which only rec- 
ognizes the simple ordinal structures of direct determination, and endea- 
vour to reconstruct rhe networks of interrelated relationships which are 
presenr in each of the facrors The structural causality of a network of 
factors is quire irreducible to the cumulated effects of the set of linear re* 
larions, of different explanatory force, which the necessities of analysis 
oblige one to isolate, those which are established between the different 
facrors, taken one by one, and the practice in question, through each of 
the factors is exerted the efficacy of all the others, and the multiplicity of 
determinations leads not to indeterminacy but to over-determination. 
Thus the superimposition of biological, psychological and social determi- 
nations in the formation of socially defined sexual identity (a basic di- 
mension of social personality) is only a particular, bur very important, 

- or a logic that is also at work in other biological determinations, 
Suc h as ageing. 

S°cs without saying that the factors constituting the constructed 

oo not all depend on one another to the same extent, and that the 

cture f tnc S y 5tcm trie y constitute is determined by those which 

r rie greatest functional weight. Thus, the volume and composition 

oth f' ta ' S ivc specific form and value to the determinations which the 

ual act0rs ( a S c » 5 e*, p^e of residence ere J impose on practices. Sex- 

a ^ P Crf i cs are as inseparable from class properties as the yellowness of 

Wk- ' ? ^ rom ' ts acidity: a class is defined in an essential respect by the 

^sp an va ^ ue lt g' ves to tnc two s e*es and to their socially constituted 

1 l0n s. This is why there are as many ways of realizing femininity as 

there are classes and class fractions, and che division of labour |^ 
the sexes cakes quite different forms, borh in practices and in repn^J*** 
tions f in the different social classes. So the true nature of a class or /' 
fracrion is expressed in irs distribution by sex or age, and perhap s Jj 
more, since its future is then at stake, by the trend of this distribu*-^ 
over time. The lowest positions are designated by the fact that r ^ c . " 
elude a large — and growing — proportion of immigrancs or women ( 
skilled and semi-skilled workers) or immigrant women (charwomen V* 
Similarly, it is no accident that the occupations in personal scrvices-^i 
medical and social services, the personal<are trades, old ones like ha 
dressing, new ones like beauty care, and especially domestic servjr 
which combine the two aspects of the traditional definition of feriia) 
tasks, service and the home — are practically reserved for women. 

Nor is it accidental that the oldest classes or class fractions are also (k. 
classes in decline, such as farmers and industrial and commercial propric. 
tors; most of the young people originating from these classes can onlv 
escape collective decline by reconverting into the expanding occupations 
Similarly, an increase in the proportion of women indicates the whole 
trend of an occupation, in particular the absolute or relarive devaluation 
which may result from changes in the nature and organization of the 
work itself (this is the case with office jobs, for example, with the multi- 
plication of repetitive, mechanical tasks that are commonly left to 
women) or from changes in relative position in social space (as in teach- 
ing, whose position has been affected by the overall displacement of (he 
profession resulting from the overall increase in the nun ber of positions 

One would have to analyse in the same way the relationship between 
marital status and class or class fracrion. it has been clearly shown, for 
example, that male celibacy is not a secondary property of rhe small peas- 
antry but an essential element of the crisis affecting this fraction of the 
peasant class. The breakdown of the mechanisms of biological and social 
reproduction brought about by the specific logic of symbolic domination 
is one of the mediations of the process of concentration which leads to * 
deep Transformation of rhe class. But here too, one would have to subject 
the commonsense notion to close analysis, as has been done for educa- 
tional level. Being married is not opposed to being unmarried simply ** 
the fact of having a legitimate spouse to the fact of not having one, On* 
only has to think of a few limiting cases (some much more frequent MP* 
others), the 'housewife', the artist supported by his wife, rhe employe' 
executive who owes his position to his father-in-law, ro see that i [ ' $ 
ficult to characterize an individual without including all the prope* 11 ^ 
(and property) which are brought to each of the spouses, and not oil ' 
the wife, through the other — a name (sometimes a distinguished *"C 
well), goods, an income, 'connections', a social status (each member 
the couple being characterized by the spouse's social position, to dirTf re* 1 

menr or ^Jrnirure, or even personal goods, such as dorhing, are — 
, the choice of a spouse for son or daughter in other societies — the 

£C ording fo sc *j position and the gap between the two posi- 

(JeS^ 5 fhe properties acquired or possessed through marriage will be 

a ° flS \A f^> m tnc s y stcm °^ properties which may determine practices 

olT,ltfC ^ft^s if- as usually happens, one forgets to ask oneself who is the 

^nd &\J the prices or, more simply, if the 'subject' questioned is 

?U ^ CC he subject of the practices on which he or she is questioned. 

\:c'i^y r as fne question is raised, it can be seen that a number of srrate- 

e concretely denned only in the relationship between the members 

^ ,CS riomes^ic £ rou P ( a household or, sometimes, an extended family), 

h itself depends on the relationship between the two systems of 

«##t*K associated with the two spouses. The common eoods, espe- 

ilv whefl [ hey arc °* somc economic and social importance, such as the 


rcome of these (denied) power relations which define the domestic 
nir For example, there is every reason to suppose that, given the logic 
of the division of labour between the sexes, which gives precedence to 
women in matters of taste (and to men in politics), the weight of the 
man's own taste in choosing his clothes (and therefore the degree to 
which his clothes express his taste) depends nor only on his own in- 
herited cultural capita) and educational capital (the traditional division 
of roles rends to weaken, here and elsewhere, as educational capital 
grows) but also on his wife's educational and cultural capital and on the 
gap between them. (The same is true of the weight of the wife's own 
preferences in politics: the effect of assignment by status which makes 
politics a man's business is less likely to occur, the greater the wife's edu- 
cational capital, or when the gap between her capital and her husband's is 
small or in her favour.) 

social class and class Of trajectories But this is not all. On the 
one hand, agents are not completely denned by the properties they pos- 
sess at a given rime, whose conditions of acquisition persist in the nab- 
jtus (the hysteresis effect); and on the other hand, the relationship 
between initial capital and present capital, or, to put it another way, bo- 
ween the initial and present positions in social space, is a statistical rela- 
onSni P of very variable intensity. Although they are always perpetuated 
of l C P 05 ' 1 ' 0115 constituting the habitus, the conditions of acquisition 
P ro Petties synchronically observed only make themselves visible in 
jji . ° discotdance between the conditions of acquisition and the con 
as []j. i use * *- c -* when the practices generated by the habitus appear 
co n j- a P ce d because they are artuned co an earliet state of the objective 

sr atisr ,0 ? S ^ n ' s wnat mi ^ hT ^e called the Don Quixote effect). The 

st^ a analysis which compares the practices of agents possessing the 

bi^ -1 Perries and occupying the same social position at a given time 

P a rated by their origin performs an operation analogous to ordi- 

na[y perception which, wiihin a group, identifies rhe parvenus an j 
declasses by picking up the subtle indices of manner or bearing ^K- 
betray rhe effect of conditions of existence different from the present 
or t which amounts to rhe same thing, a social trajectory different f r 
rhe modal trajectory for the gtoup in quesrion. ' 

Individuals do not move about in social space in a random way, p- . 
because they are subject to the forces which structure this space u^ 
through rhe objective mechanisms of elimination and channelling) -rj 
partly because they resist rhe forces of the field with their specific inertu 
that ts, rheir properties, which may exist in embodied form, as dispo^ 
tions, or in objectified form, in goods, qualifications etc. To a given vol 
ume of inherired capital there corresponds a band of more or less equal!* 
probable trajectories leading to more or less equivalent positions (thi$ir 
the fktid 0/ the passiblti objectively offered co a given agent), and the shift 
from one rrajcctoiy to another often depends on colleaive events — * a ~ 
crises etc.— or individual events — encounteis, affairs, benefactors etc.— 
which are usually described as (fortunate or unfortunate) accidents, jj. 
though they themselves depend statistically on the posirion and disposi- 
tion of those whom they befall (e.g., the skill in operating 'connections' 
which enables the holders of high social capital to preserve or increase 
rhis capital), when, that is, they are not deliberately contrived by institu- 
tions (clubs, family reunions, old-boys' or alumni associations etc.) or by 
the 'spontaneous* intervention of individuals or groups. It follows from 
this that position and individual trajectory are not statistically indepen- 
dent; all positions of arrival ate not equally probable for all starting 
points This implies that there is a strong correlation between social po- 
sitions and the dispositions of the agents who occupy them, or, which 
amounts to the same thing, the trajectories which have led them to oc- 
cupy them, and consequently that the modal trajectory is an inrcgral pan 
of the system of factors constituting the class. (The more dispersed the 
trajectories are — as in the petite bourgeoisie — the less are practices reduc- 
ible to the effect of synchronically defined position ) 

The homogeneity of the dispositions associated with a position and 
their seemingly miraculous adjustment to the demands inscribed in if K " 
suit partly from rhe mechanisms which channel towards positions * n 7^ 
viduals who are already adjusted to them, either because they feel 'ma** 
for jobs that are 'made 1 for them — this is 'vocation 1 , the proleptic as- 
sumption of an objective destiny that is imposed by practical reference 
the modal trajectory in rhr class of origin — or because rhey are secn v , 
this light by the occupants of the posts—this is co-option based on x 
immediate harmony of dispositions — and partly from the dialectic w* 11 
is established, throughout a lifetime, between dispositions and P° sit,C> w 
aspirations and achievements. Social ageing is nothing other than 
slow renunciation or disinvestment (socially assisted and encourag^ 
which leads agents to adjusr their aspirations to their objective cna " t 
to espouse their condition, become what they are and make do with ** 

even if rn »s emails deceiving themselves as to what rhey are 
rhe/ h3V f\hey have, wifh coIlcctivc complicity, and accepting bercave- 
?n d *^^jj f hc 'lateral possibles 1 they have abandoned along the way. 
irttftf 3t j s tical character of the relationship between initial capital and 
capital explains w hy practices cannot be completely accounted 
wesc^ , [e rm s of the properties denning the position occupied in so- 
for5°J * eiven moment. To say that the members of a class initi; 

i\ sp 3CC 3 
.^sessin^ a 

i" 1 - given moment. 10 say that the members of a class initially 

t' 3 ' 5 P pp a certain economic and cultural capital are destined, with a 

given p' 

^probability, to an educational and social trajectory leading to a 
'* C nosition means in fact that a fraction of the class {which cannot be 
£* rnined a priori within the limits of this explanatory system) will de- 
from tne tf aj^ tt0i y most common for the class as a whole and fol- 
V1Jt the (higher or lower) trajectory which was most ptobable for 
embers of another class.' 2 The trajectory effect which then manifests it- 
jp j t does whenever individuals occupying similar positions at a 
jvrn t» m e arc scparaced by differences associated with the evolution over 
time of the volume and structure of their capital* i.e., by their individual 
irajcctories, is very likely to be wrongly interpreted. The correlation be- 
tween a practice and social origin (measured by the father's position, the 
real value of which may have suffered a decline concealed by constant 
nommal value) is the resultant of two effects (which may either reinforce 
or off set each other): on the one hand, the inculcation eff ecr directly ex 
med by the family or the original conditions of existence; on the other 
hand, the specific effect of social trajectory, 13 rhat is, the effects of social 
rise or decline on dispositions and opinions, posirion of origin being, in 
this logic, merely the starting point of a trajectory, the reference whereby 
ihe slope of the social career is denned. The need to make this distinction 
is sdf evidenr in all cases in which individuals from the same class frac- 
»ion or the same family, and Therefore piesumably subject to identical 
moral, religiois or political inculcations, are inclined towards divergent 
stances in religion or politics by the different relations to the social world 
*>mch rhey owe to divergent individual trajectories, having, for example, 
Receded or f a j] C( j j n cnc reconversion strategies necessary to escape the 

Th f ' VC dccline °f fheir class. 

m? trajectory effect no doubt plays a large part in blurring the rela- 

i , l P betw C en social class and religious or polirical opinions, owing to 

c t that it governs the representarion of the position occupied in the 

*'orld and hence the vision of its world and its future. In contrast 

tut ar( *v mobile individuals or groups, 'commoners' of birth or cut- 

gr^ navc f heir future, i.e., their being, befoie them, individuals or 

sen tl i S !n dedwe endlessly reinvent the discourse of all aristocracies, cs- 

P*st th ln r ^ c ctcrnit y of natures, celebration of tradirion and the 

fror^, . C of history and its rituals, because the best they can expect 

the r e Umr e is the return of the old order, from which they expect 

T his ?[ ation of their social being. 14 

b]ur r j n g ; s p art i cu i ar Jy visible in rhe middle classes and especially 

in the new fractions of these classes, which are grey areas, ambi& Uo 
located in the social structure, inhabited by individuals whose trajectn • 
aie exrrcmely scarrcred. This dispersion of trajecrories is even found k 
at the level of the domestic unit, which is more likely than in 5 1 * 
classes to bring together spouses (relarively) ill maTched not only ^ 
gards social origin and trajectories but also occupational status and *,» 
carional level (This has the effect, among other things, of foreground I* 
what The new vulgare calls 'the problems of the couple', i.e., essential^ 
the problems of the sexual division of labour and the division of sexy [ 

In contrast to the effect of individual trajectory, which, being a devji, 
tion from the collective Trajectory (that may have a zero slope), is imm* 
diarely visible, the effect of collective trajectory may not be noticed a* 
such. When the rrajecrory eff cct concerns a whole class or class fraction 
that is, a set of individuals who occupy an identical position and are en- 
gaged in the same collective trajectory, the one which defines a rising 
or declining class, there is a danger of attributing to the properties ^^ 
chronically attached to the class, effects (e.g., political or religious pin. 
ions) which are in reality the product of collective transformations. TV 
analysis is complicated by the fact that some members of a class fraction 
may have embarked on individual trajectories running in the opposite di- 
rection to that of the fraction as a whole. This does not mean that their 
practices are not marked by the collective destiny (It is questionable, for 
example, whether craftsmen or farmers whose individual success seems to 
run counter to the collective decline cease to be affected by that de- 
cline. ) (> But here too one must avoid substantial ism. Thus, some of the 
properties associated with social class which may remain without efficacy 
or value in a given field, such as ease and familiarity with culture in an 
area strictly controlled by the educational system, can take on their full 
force in another field, such as high society, or in another state of the sarfK 
field, like the aptitudes which, after the French Revolution, enabled the 
French aristocracy to become, in Matx's phrase, 'the dancing-masters of 

capital and the markgt But everything would still be too simp^ J 
it were sufficient to replace a factor, even a particularly powerful one sucn 
as socio-occupational category, which derives a major part of rts effect: 
from the secondary variables it governs, by a system of factors fundanic 
tally defined by its structure. ,{S In fact, what is determinant in a given *J*J 
is a particular configuration of the system of properties constituting * 
constructed class, defined in an entirely theoretical way by the whole 
of actors operating in all areas of practice— volume and structure ° ^. 
tal, defined synchronically and diachronicalJy (trajectory), sex, age. &**, 
tal sratus, place of residen e ere. It is the specific logic of the field, 
what is at stake and of the type of capital needed to play for it, w»" 

those properties through which the relationship between class 
g0 vcrnS ,rtce is established. 

- - — - * 

bic correlation of each explanatory factor is not performed, every 
] f rh» s _ is |ik c jy p all of them resulting from ignoring the fact chat what 
sflf !jiact Ve' in fhe factor in question de nds on the system it is placed in 
is '° r * r ^ ndirions it "operates* in; or, more simply, from failing to raise the 
^ of the real principle of the efficacy of the 'independent variable', 
^ u<St deeding as i( the relationship found between the fee tor — designated 
W P hat js usually no more than an indicator of it (e.g., educarional level) 
1* d this or that practi e (e.g., the rate of response to political questions, 

n ca pacity to adopt the aesthetic disposition, or museum-gomg etc.) 
^ot itsel fhavc to be explained, 

To undeistand w hy the same system of properties (which determines 
ind is determined by the position occupied in the field of class struggles) 
always has the greatest explanatoiy power, whatever the area in ques- 
tion—eating habits, use of credit, fcrriliry, political opinion, religion 
etc^-and why, simultaneously, the relative weight of the factors which 
constitute it varies from one field to another — educational capital being 
most important in one area, economic capital in another, and so on — one 
only has to see that, because capital is a social relation, i.e., an energy 
which only exists and only produces its effects in the field in which it is 
produced and reproduced, each of the properties attached to class is given 
its value and efficacy by the specific laws of each field. In practice, that is, 
in a particular field, the properties, internalized in dispositions ot objecti- 
fied in economic ot cultural goods, which are attached to agents are not 
all simultaneously operative; the specific logic of the field determines 
those which are valid in this marker, which are pertinent and active in 
the game in question, and which, in the relationship with this field, 

nction as specific capital — and, consequently, as a factor explaining 

practices* This means, concretely, that the social rank and specific power 

"hich agenrs are assigned in a patticular field depend firstly on the 

^ c Pital they can mobilize, whatever their additional wealth in 

er rypes of capita] (though this may also exert an effect of contami- 

class c *Pk' ns w hy the relationship which analysis uncovers between 

diat ^ P ract,ccs a ppears to be established in each case through the me* 

c Ordi 2 aCtor or particular combination of factors which varies ac- 

inv^rj f t0 tnc field. This appearance itself leads to the mistake of 

in« mj^ as man Y explanatory systems as theie are fields, instead of see* 

Crr or of tncm as a transformed form of all the others; or worse, the 

Ur fi c ij SCK,n £ U P a particular combination of factors active in a particu- 

c ° [ ifi& practices as a universal explanatory principle. The singular 

ration of the system of explanatory factors which has to be con- 

strucred in order co account for a state of rhe distribution of a partial 
class of goods or practices, ic, a balance-sheet, drawn up ar a partic u i 
moment, of rhe class struggle over that particular class of goods or p fa 
tices {caviar or avant-garde painting, Nobel prizes or state contracts C 
enlightened opinion or a chic sport), is the form taken, in rhar field i 
the objectified and internalized capital (properties and habitus) w jJ« J 
defines social class and constitutes the principle of rhe production ( 
classified and classifying practices. It represents a state of the system f 
properties which make class a universal principle of explanation and cja 
sifica.tion, defining the rank occupied in all possible fields. 

A Three-Dimensional Space 

Endeavouring to reconstitute the units mosr homogeneous from t |^ 
point of view of the conditions of production of habitus, ix , with ^. 
spect to the elementary conditions of existence and the resultant condi- 
tionings, one can construct a space whose three fundamental dimensions 
are defined by volume of capital, composition of capital, and change in 
these two properties over time (manifested by past and potential trajec- 
tory in social space). 1 

The primary differences, those which distinguish the major classes of 
conditions of existence, derive from the overall volume of capital, under- 
stood as the set of actually usable resources and powers — economic 
capital, cultural capital and also social capital. The distribution of the dif- 
ferent classes (and class fractions) thus runs from those who are best 
provided with both economic and cultural capital to those who are most 
deprived in both respects (see figure 5, larer in this section). The mem- 
bers of the professions, who have high incomes and high qualifications, 
who vety often (52,9 pcrcenr) originate from the dominant class (profes- 
sions or senior execurives), who receive and consume a large quantity o' 
both material and cultural goods, are opposed in almost all respects to 
the office workers, who have low qualifications, often originate from the 
working or middle classes, who receive little and consume little, devoting 
a high proporrion of their time to car maintenance and home improve 
menu and they are even more opposed to the skilled or semi-skilled work" 
crs, and still more to unskilled workers or farm labourers, who have tnC 
lowest incomes, no qualifications, and originare almost exclusively (9 
percent of farm labourers, 84.5 percent of unskilled workers) from W* 
working classes. 18 , 

The differences stemming from the total volume of capital almost 
ways conceal, both from common awareness and also from 'scierH' 
knowledge, the secondary differences which, within each of the c U 5 
defined by overall volume of capital, separate class fractions, defined 
different asset structures, i-e., different distributions of their total cap' 
among the different kinds of eapiral. 

-he difficulties which this model aims to account for in a unitary 
#nori£ mati way, the most visible is the observation, which others have 
ifl d rt* lC J C (eg., CS- VII), that the hierarchies, both in the dominant 
oftW ^ fWCC n the executives and the employers, and in the middle class, be- 
d* 55 * ^. lC junior executives and the craftsmen or shopkeepers, vary accord- 
c 9fifn f he activity or asset in question. This effect seems ro support the 
ing l0 . - c critique of the social classes unril it is seen that there is a rela- 
rC ' at hiD between the nature of these activities or assets, for example, 
tl ° nS #>ing or possession of a colour TV, and the structure of each 


Once one takes account of the structure of total assets — and not only, 

has always been done implicitly, of the dominant kind in a given 

, «.«• *birth\ 'fortune' or 'talents', as the nineteenth century put it — 
$tnJctu rc > » . ..... . , / * 

one has the means of making more precise divisions and also or observing 

the specific effects of the strucrtire of distribution berween the different 
kinds of capital. This may, for example, be symmetrical (as in the case of 
the professions, which combine very high income with veiy high cultural 
capital) or asymmetrical (in the case of higher-education and secondary 
teachers or employers* with cultural capital dominanr in one case, eco- 
nomic capital in the other). One thus discovers two sets of homologous 
posirions. The fractions whose reproduction depends on economic capi- 
tal, usually inherited— industrial and commercial employers at the higher 
level craftsmen and shopkeepers at the intermediate level — are opposed 
to the fractions which are least endowed (relatively, of course) with eco- 
nomic capital, and whose reproduction mainly depends on cultural capi- 
tal— higher-education and secondary teachers at the higher level, primary 
teachers at the intermediate level. 

c industrialists, ^-ho are grouped with the commercial employers in sur- 
^Ki rr P rc5cntat,vc sample because of their small number, declare consid- 
Ktoft ^£ ner incomes than the latter (33.6 percent say they earn more than 

,' ?? French francs, as against 14.5 percent of the commercial employ - 
mu c hi daSS,ficd as industrialises in the INSEE survey (CS. I) are 
man er ro tnc ncw bourgeoisie than are rhe commercial employers: 
c[mJ; mon °^ tncm declare salaries and investment income, many fewer de- 
c Usses l* ' COmmcrc ' a ' or non-commercial profits. For the working 
**° fiot ki 3tC * tf0n 8'y ra °ked by overall capital volume, the dara available 
5i tion of" ? nc ro g ras P tr »e differences in the second dimension (compo- 
c ^ Uc atj Ca f )* However, differences such as those berween semi-skilled, 
ir > an mh ■ ^ n 9 ua 'ifi c d, provincial factory workers of rural origin, living 
^n i n t 5 n cc ° ^tmhouse, and skilled workers in the Paris region who have 
^ificafo w ° r ^* n & c * ass for generations, who possess a trade' or technical 
^d p jj . nS - must be the source of differences in life-style and religious 
cal opmion. 

Given that, as one moves from the artists to the industrial and 
mercial employers, volume of economic capita) rises and vo!um e of ' 1 '' 
tural capita) falls, it can be seen that the dominant class is organize Cl1 '' 
cfuasric strucrure. To establish this, it is necessary to use various inrf'* 1 
tors borrowed from a sui-vey which has the advantage of distinguish 5* 
between public-sector and private-sector execurives (CS V) to cxam^ 
successively, the distribution of economic capital and the distribute 
cultural capital among the fracrions; the structures of these distributi 
musr then be correlated. * 

Although it is self-evident when one considers indicators of wealth (as , 
be done later), the hierarchy of the class fractions as regards possession f 
economic capita), running from industrial and commercial employers ro 
teachers, is already less visible when, as here, one is only dealing with j n , 
dices of consumption (cars* boats, hotels) which are neither entirely adequate 
nor entirely unambiguous (see table 6). The first (cars) also depends on 
the rype of professional activity, and rhe other two depend on spare time 
which, as one learns in other ways, varies inversely wuh economic capital, 
Home ownership also depends on stability in the same place of residence 
(lower among executives, engineers and teachers). Incomes are very un- 
evenly underestimated (the rate of non-declaration may be considered an in- 
dicator of the tendency to undcr-declare) and very unequally accompanied 
by fringe benefits such as expense account meals and business crips (which 
are known to rise as one moves from teachers to private-sector executives 
and employers). 

As regards cultural capital, except for a few inversions, which reflect sec- 
ondary variables such as place of residence, with the corresponding supply 
of culture, and income, with the means it provides, the different fractions 
are organized in an opposite hierarchy (see table 7), (Differentiation accord- 
ing ro the type of capital possessed, literary, scientific or economic and p°" 
lirical, is mainly seen m the fact that engineers show more interest in muitf 
and "intellectual' games such as bridge or chess than in literaiy activities^ 
theatre-going or reading Le Figara Liueraire.) 

These indicators no doubt tend to minimize the gaps between rhe dine*' 
ent fracrions Most cultural consumption also entails an economic cost: tBP 
arre-going, for example, depends on income as well as education. Morco^f < 
equipmenr such as FM radios or hi fi systems can be used in very diffcrc nl 
ways (e-g-» classical music or dance music), whose values, in terms of ***** 
dominant hierarchy of possible uses, may vary as much as the different V$f 
of reading-matter or theatre. In fact, the position of the different fraction* 
ranked according to their interest in the different types of reading-matte* . 
rends to correspond to their position when ranked according ro volume 
cultural capital as one moves towards the rarer types of reading, which 
known robe those most linked to educational leve! and highest in the 
archy of Cultural legitimacy (see [able 8). - 

One also finds (CS. XIV, rable 215a) that the over representation o' 
teachers (and students) in the audience of the different theatres steadily 















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dines anil the over-representation of the other fractions (employers, SCn 
executives and members of the professions, unfortunately not distjriguj^ 
in the star is tics) increases as one moves from avant-garde or reputedly ^ 
avant garde theatre to classical theatre and especially from classical t0 ^ 
vard theatre, which draws between a third and a quarter of its audience 
from the least 'intellectual fractions of the dominant class- 

Having established that the srrucrure of the distribution of econ 0n - 
capiral is symmetrical and opposire to that of cultural capital, Wc c 
rurn to the question of the hierarchy of the two principles of hierarchi 
tion (without forgetting that this hierarchy is at all rimes a stake 
snuggles and that, in certain conjunctures, as in present-day France cul 
tural capital may be one of rhe conditions for access to control f ^ 
nomic capital). We may take as an indicator of the state of the powe? 
relation between these two principles of domination the frequency of in, 
tergenerational movements between the fractions. 

If we use as indices of the rarity of a position (or, which amounts to 
the same thing, irs degree of closure) the proportion of its occupants 
who originate from the dominant class as a whole and from the fraction 
in question, we find that the resulting hierarchy corresponds fairly ex- 
actly, for both indices, ro the hierarchy by volume of economic capital 
(see table 9). The proportion of members of each fraction who origi- 
nated from rhe dominant class, and the proportion of individuals who 
originated from the fraction to which they now belong, decline in paral- 
lel as one moves from the industrial employers to the teachers, with a 
clear break between the three higher-ranking fractions (industrial and 
commercial employers and the professions) and rhe three lower-ranking 
fractions (engineers, public-sector executives and reachers). 

The use of rhese indicators may be contested on the grounds that the 
different fractions have very unequal control over the conditions of their 
social reproduction, so that rhe high proportion of endogenous employ- 
ers may express nothing other than rhe capacity of these fractions (or tf 
least of a proportion of their members) ro transmit their powers iw 
privileges without mediation or control- Indeed, this capacity is itself one 
of the rarest privileges, which, by giving greater freedom vis-a-vis ** 
demic verdicts, reduces the necessity or urgency of making the culture 
investments which cannot be avoided by those who depend entirely ° 
the education system for their reproduction. The fractions richest in c ., 
tural capiral do in fact tend to invest in their children's education ^ . 
as in rhe cultural practices likely to maintain and increase their sp^ 
rarity; the fractions richest in economic capital set aside cultural and eo 
carional investments in favour of economic investments — industrial j 
commercial employers more so, however, rhan the new bourgeois^ 
private-sector executives, who manifest the same concern for ranon^ t 
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the professions (especially doctors and lawyers), relatively well cm 
with both forms of capital, but too little integrated inro economy i^ 
usetheir capital in it actively, invesr in their children's education b u * ^ 
and especially in cultural practices which symbolize possession of r|,- *& 
aerial and cultural means of maintaining a bourgeois life-style and *>k: 
provide a social capital, a capital of social connections, honourabjlj^ ^ 
respectability that is often essential in winning and keeping the c 
dence of high society, and with it a clientele, and may be drawn o n f 
example, in making a political career. * ** 

Given that scholastic success mainly depends on inherited cultural capj ta i 
and on the propensity to invest in the educational system (and that the |< 
ret varies with rhe degree to which maintained or improved social posi r , 
depends on such success), it is cleat why the proportion of pupils in a 
given school or college who come from the culturally richest fractions rite 
with the position of that school in the specifically academic hierarchy (^ 
sured, for example, by previous academic success), reaching its peak in the 
msntution responsible for reproducing rhe professorial corps (the Ecol c 
Normale Superieure). In fact, like the dominant class which they help to 
reproduce, higher-education institutions are organized in accordance with 
two opposing principles of hierarchy. The hierarchy dominant within the 
educational system, i.e., the One which ranks institutions by specifically aca- 
demic criteria, and, cotrelativcly, by rhe proportion of their students drawn 
from rhe culturally richest fractions, is diametrically opposed to rhe hierar- 
chy dominant outside the educational system, i.e., the one which ranks in- 
stitutions by the proportion of their students drawn from the fractions 
richest in economic capital or in power and by the position in rhe eco- 
nomic or power hierarchy of ihc occupations rhcy lead to If the offspring 
of the dominated fractions are less represenred in the economically highesr 
institutions (such as EN A or HEC) than might be expected from their pre- 
vious academic success and the position of these schools in the specifically 
scholastic hierarchy, this is, of course, because these schools refuse to apply 
purely scholastic criteria, bur it is also because the scholastic hierarchy i* 
most faithfully respected (so thar the science section of the ENS is p^ 
ferred to Polytechnic^ e, or ihc Arts faculty to Sciences Po), by those who 
are most dependent on the educational system. (Blindness to alternant 
ranking principles is most nearly Complete in the case of teachers' children 
whose whole upbringing inclines them to identify all success with academ 
success) ^^^^ 

The same chiasric structure is found at the level of the middle c ' asS ~~j 
where volume of cultural capital again declines, while economic cap' 
increases, as one moves from primary teachers to small industrial 
commercial employers, with junior executives, technicians and clef 
workers in an intermediate position, homologous to chat of engt n 
and executives at the higher level. Artistic craftsmen and art-dealers, 
earn their living from industrial and commercial profits, and arc clo 5 

^ [5 to othet small businessmen, are scr apart from them by 
ifr ^ wfvely kigh cu ' rura ' capital, which brings rhem closer ro the new 
0$ f c u rc co»sic, The medical and social services, drawn ro a relarively 
pC tlfC - i from rhe dominant class, 1 are in a central position, roughly 
J*$Ff ol js ro that of the professions (although slightly more tilted to- 
\i.oW° y ^le of cultural capital); they are the only ones who receive 
* J ^ 5 i ttfipes or salaries but also, in some cases, noncommercial profits 

"i v me professions). 

("** imn iediafely be seen that the homology between the space of the 
nanr d ass and that of the middle classes is explained by the fact that 
< *° m rructure is rhe product of the same principles. In each case, there is 
position between owners {of rheir own home, of rural or urban 
30 rtv. of stocks and shares), often older, with little spare time, often 
^i children of industrial or agricultural employeis, and non-owners, 
v. Ay endowed wirh educational capital and spare rime, originating 
l. m the wage-earning fractions of the middle and upper classes or from 
the working class. The occupants of homologous positions, primaiy 
teachers and professors, for example, or small shopkeepers and commer- 
cial entrepreneurs, ate mainly separated by the volume of the kiud of cap- 
ital that is dominant in the structure of their assets, i e., by differences of 
degree which separate individuals unecjually endowed with the same 
scarce resources- The lower positions — and, correctively, the dispositions 
of their occupants— derive some of their characteristics from the fact 
that they are objectively related to the corresponding positions at the 
higher level, rowards which they tend and 'pce-rend'. This is clearly seen 
in the case of the wage-earning petite bourgeoisie, whose ascetic virtues 
and cultural good intentions— which it manifests in all sorts of ways, 
liking evening classes, enrolling in libraries, collecting stamps etc. — vety 
clearly express the aspiration to rise to the higher position, rhe objective 
destiny of rhe occupants of the lower position who manifest such dispo- 

reconstruct the social conditions of production of rhe habitus as fully as 
'baton' u° C 2 ' S0 ^ aS IO cons ^ cr m e social trajectory of the class nr class 
^mtV a ^ CrTf ** [on & ro ' whi ch, through ihe probable slope of rhe col- 
Wie V rc * engenders progressive or regressive dispositions rowards the 
each j, 3 r ^ e Evolution, over several generations, of the asset structure of 
* Vcn %> h wn ich is perpetuated in the habitus and introduces divisions 
tiki of "k n S r0u P s tnaf af e « homogeneous as the fractions. To give an 
,f| <livtd I' nn & °f possibilities, it need only be pointed out that an 
tv °'utio 5 / oc ' a ' "Rectory represents rhe combination of: the lifelong 
lrn?c cL " ° fhc vo,umc of his capital, which can be described, very approx 
C y ita l (am mCl ki aSingl ^ cc, " easin f or stationary; rhe volume of each sort of 
k' s capiu tQ rhC Samc ^ junctions), ant * therefore the composition 

(since constant volume can conceal a change in structure). 

and, in the same way, the father's and mother's asset volume and stru Ch 
and their respective weights in the different kinds of capital (eg,, f at |J ** 
stronger in economic capital and mother in cultural capital, ot vice v^j, 
equivalence); and therefore the volume and structure of the capiral f ?* ty 
sets of grandparents. l * 

To account more fully for the differences in life-style berween z ^ 
ferent fractions — especially as regards cuJrure — one would have ro /7 
account of rheir distribution in a socially ranked geographical ^^ *J 
group's chances of appropriating any given class of rare assets (^ ^J; 
suted by rhc mathematical probability of access) depend partly on j^ 
pacity for the specific appropriation, defined by the economic, cuirui^i 
and social capital it can deploy in order to appropriate materially or SVm 
boIicaJly rhe assets in question, rhar is, irs position in social space, ^tu 
partly on the relationship between its distribution in geographical o^ 
and the distribution of the scarce assets in mat space. (This relationshm 
can be measured in average distances from goods or facilities, or in travel. 
ling time — which involves access to private or public transport) I n q^ 
words, a group's real social distance from cerrain assets must integrate the 
geographical distance, which itself depends on the group's spatial distri- 
bution and, more precisely, its distribution with respect to the l focaJ 
point* of economic and cultural values, i.e., Paris or rhe major regional 
centres {in some careers— e.g., in the postal banking system— employ- 
ment or promotion enrails a period of exile). ' Thus, the distance of farm 
workers from legirimare culture would not be so vast if the specifically 
culrural distance implied by their low cultural capiral were not com- 
pounded by their spatial dispeision. Similarly, many of the differences 
observed in rhc (cultural and other) practices of the different fractions of 
the dominant class are no doubt attributable to the size of the rown they 
live in. Consequently, the opposition between engineers and private- 
sector executives on the one hand, and industrial and commercial em- 
ployers on rhe orher, partly stems from the facr that rhe former mostly 
live in Paris and work for relatively large firms (only 7 percenr of p n ' 
vate-sector executives work in firms employing from 1 ro 5 people- 8 
against 34 percent in medium-sized firms and 40 percenr in firms c^ 
ploying more than 50 people), whereas the latter mainly run small fif* * 
(in the 1966 survey by SOFRES [Societe franchise d'enqufres P ar **^ 
dages] — C.S„ V— 6 percent of rhe industrialists had from 1 to 5 emptof 
ees; 70 percent, 6 to 49, 24 percent, more than 50; in commerce ™\ 
corresponding iigures are 30 percent, 42 percent and 12 percent) *? 
mostly live in rhe provinces and even in the country (according CO i 
1968 census, 22.3 percent of the industrialists and | 5.5 percent ° a 
commercial employers lived in a rural commune, 14.1 percent ana 
percent in communes of less rhan 10,000 inhabitants). ,<j 

The model which emerges would not be so difficult to arrive a r i' lC 

uppo&e a break with the common-sense pictuie of the social 
fl ot ' mmed up in the metaphor of the 'social ladder' and suggested 
*° r '^hc everyday language oPmobiliry', with its 'rises' and 'falls'; and a 
bf * ra dicai break with rhe whole sociological tradition which, when ii 
n° mer tly tacitly acccpring the one dimensional image of social space, 
is f, ° r f [^search on 'social mobility' does, subjects it 10 a pseudo* 
**■ ^ "fie elaboration, reducing the social universe to a continuum of ab- 
sC * Cf! strata ('upper middle class\ 'lower middle class* etc.)? 2 obtained by 
Str3C gating different forms of capital, thanks to the construction of in 
5? (which are, par excellence, the destroyers of structures). 23 
action onto a s ' n g' c ax,s > ' n order to construct the continuous, lin- 
homogeneous, one-dimensional series with which the social hierar- 
vj l s normally identified, implies an extremely difficult (and, if it is 
C witting, extremely dangerous) operation, whereby the different types 
//capital are reduced to a single standard. This abstract operation has an 
hjccrive basis in the possibility, which is always available, of converting 
one type of capital into another; however, the exchange rates vaty in ac- 
cordance * f ifh the power relation between the holders of the different 
forms of capital By obliging one to formulate the principle of the con- 
vertibility of the different kinds of capital, which is the precondition for 
reducing the space to one dimension, the construction of a two-dimen- 
sional space makes it clear that the exchange rate of the different kinds of 
capital is one of the fundamental stakes in the struggles between class 
fractions whose power and privileges are linked ro one or the other of 
these types. In particular, this exchange rate is a stake in the struggle o vcr 
the dominant principle of domination (economic capital, cultural capital 
or social capital), which goes on at ail times between the different frac- 
tions of rhe dominant class. 

Reconversion Strategies 

Kfproduction strategies, the set of outwardly very different practices 
rct>v individuals or families rend, unconsciously and consciously, to 
maintain or increase rheir assets and consequently to maintain or im- 
prove their position in rhe class srructure, constitute a system which, 
6 the product of a single unifying, generative principle, tends to 
^ on an ° change in a systematic way. Through the mediation of the 
position towards the furure, which is itself determined by the group's 
v ] lVC c b ance s of reproduction, rhese strategies depend, first, on the 
o n * c an< * composition of the capiral to be reproduced; and, secondly, 
<. Us(Q srarc of the insrruments of reproduction (inheritance law and 
f*tids l la ^ 0ur market, the educational system etc), which itself de- 
in eit , n ™c state of the power relations between the classes. Any change 
re|> ro J t 'J c instruments of reproduction or the state of the capital to be 
therefore leads to a esttucturing of the system of reproduc- 

One of rhe difficulties of sociologi- 
cal discourse lies in chc fact that, 
like all language, it unfolds in 
strictly lineat fashion, whetcas, to 
escape ovetsimplincarion and onc- 
sidedness, one ought to be able to 
recall at evety point the whole net- 
wotlc of relationships found there. 
That is why it has seemed useful to 
present a diagram which has the 
property, as Saussure says, of being 
able to 'present simultaneous com- 
plications in several dimensions', as 
a means of gtasping the correspon- 
dence between the structure of so- 
cial space — whose two fundamental 
dimensions correspond to the vol- 
ume and composition of the capital 
of rhe groups distributed within 
it — and the structure of the space of 
the symbolic ptopetties attached to 
those gtoups. But this diagram does 
not aim to be rhe crystal ball in 
which the alchemists claimed to see 
at a glance everything happening in 
the world; and like mathematicians 
who also treat whar they call 'imag- 
ety' as a necessaiy evil, I am 
tempred to withdraw ir in rhe vety 
act of ptesenting it. Fot f ere is rea- 
son to fear that it will cucoutagc 
readings which will reduce the ho- 
mologies between systems of diff'et- 
ences to direct, mechanical 
relationships between gioups and 
properties, or that ir will encoutage 
the form of voyeurism which is in- 
herent in the objectivist intention, 
putting the sociologist in the tole 
of the lame devil who takes off the 
roofs and reveals the sectcts of do- 
mestic life to his fascinated readers. 
To have as exact an idea as possi- 
ble of the theotetical model thar is 
proposed, it has to be imagined that 
three diagrams are superimposed (as 
could be done with transpatent 


sheets). The first (here, figure * 
presents the space of social Con J 
rions, as organized by the 
synchronic and diachtonic distr'L 
tion of the volume and compos" * 
of the various kinds of capital- .J^ 
position of each group (class fra 
tion) in this space is determined L 
the set of properties characterise • 
the respects thus defined as pe rr j. l " 
nenr. The second (figure 6) pr^ 
rhe space of life-styles, i.e., the S 
bution of the practices and proper- 
ties which constitute the life-style i 
which each of these conditions man. 
ifests itself. Finally, between rhe two 
previous diagrams one ought to in- 
sett a rhitd, presenting the theoreti- 
cal space of habitus, that is, of the 
generative formulae (e.g., for teach- 
ers, atistoctatic asceticism) which 
underllie each of the classes of prac- 
tices and ptoperties, thar is, the 
transformation into a distinct and 
distinctive life-style of the necessities 
and facilities chatacterisric of a con- 
dition and a position. The figures 
presented hete are not plane dia- 
grams of correspondence analyses, al* 
though various such analyses were 
drawn on in ordet to construct 
them, and although a number of 
these ate organized in accordance 
with a similar structure (including 
rhe analyses of the survey data 
which are presented below). 

Among the limitations of such » 
construct, the most important 4** 
due to the lacunae in the statistics- 
which arc much better at measuring 
consumption or, at best, income 
(setting aside secondary and hj", ._ 

profits) and property than cap* 1 * 1 
the stricr sense (especially capita' l 
vesred in the economy): others a 
due to the inadequacies of the a° 
lytical categories. These are very 

rt^" r , h< Urtinenr criteria and, in 
rfrds r],c f,j ie industrial and com- 

^ rxartiP'c. ro ,dcncif y rhe 

ble. tor faca pical that can exen 

ho ,dff * vcr capital, i.e., big business. 
P°*' C L.°lr of rigorous indicators of 
f^ian ^ 'he differences. 

ti] he economic and cultural 

j commercial employers, crafts- 

d com 

„ and shopk«pers~has been 
Cleared by writing the correspond- 
' p^es vertically between the ex- 
[S»c M« defining the group.) It 
has (O be remembered that the posi- 
tion marked by the names always 
repiescnts the cenrral point in a 
spice of variable extent which may 
in some cases be organized as a field 
of competition. 

In the absence of a survey (per 
hips impossible to cany our in prae- 
tice) rhat would ptovide, with 
respite to the same representative 
sample, ail the indicators of eco- 
nomic, cultural and social wealth 
md its evolution which are needed 
m order ro consriuct an adequate 
^presentation of social space, a sim- 
pfificd model of that space has been 
cotmrucrcd, based on information 
acquired rhrough earlier research, 
2nd on a set of data taken from wi- 
lous surveys, all done by INSEE and 

Iw A hom °S Cn ^^ m least as 
bS?/ construction of the eate- 
ry scc app^x 3)^ 

«££ TZf* 0( l%1 on lcisurc ac 

h ave J? j fda " n « t0 mcn > l 
such as I ' ndlc3tors ^ spate time 
(Cs iv% n f th of rhc working week 
voc ario V frt,m *« 1970 stixvey on 

^enw L nin ' n * (tablcs rclatin £ 
fa fher' s havc rakcn data on the 
Cja ' tr fll 0Ccu P ari °n2l category (so- 

clonal level (inherited cultural capi- 
tal) and the subject's educational 
level (scholastic capital) (CS. II); 
ftom the 1970 suivey on incomes, I 
have taken informarion on total in- 
comes, rutal and urban property, 
shares, industrial and commercial 
profits, wages and salaties (eeo* 
nomic capital) (CS. I); ftom the 
1972 survey on household consump 
Hon, data on the total amount 
spent, possession of a washing- 
machine and telephone, forms of 
tenancy of mam and second resi- 
dence (CS. Ill); and ftom the 1968 
census, data on rhe size of the town 
of residence. 

For each of rhe groups repre- 
sented, I havc also indicated, firstly, 
the distribution of the occupants of 
each group according to the social 
ttajectoty which has brought them 
there, wirh histograms showing the 
pro rtion of each group having 
come ftom each of the different 
classes. For rhe sake of legibility, 
rhese histograms ate reproduced 
only for a few illustrative caregories. 
They suffice to show that the pro- 
portion of individuals from the 
dominant class (black) discs 
Strongly, while r e proportion from 
the working classes (white) de 
clines, as one moves up the social 
hierarchy. (The histogram for the 
'semi-skilled* workers, not repro- 
duced here, is intermediate berween 
those of rhe unskilled and skilled 
workcis.) For the upper and middle 
classes ar leasr, one really needs ro 
be able to give the distribution by 
fraction of origin. 

Secondly, I have indicated rhe his- 
tory of the group as a whole. This 
is shown by the arrows, pointing 
up, down or horizontally, which in- 
dicate thar between 1962 and 1968 
the group in qucsrion expanded (by 
at least 25 percent), contracted or 


1 o 

* 1 



remained stable They rhus make 
visible the opposition between the 
new, strongly growing fractions and 
t'ie stablished, stable or declining 
frac lions. I have rhus endeavoured 
to show both the stare of the power 
relation between the classes which 
constitutes the snucture of the so- 
cial space ar a given moment and 
also something which is simultanc 
ously an effect of and a factor in the 
transformation of that structure, 
namely the reconversion strategies 
whereby individuals (and groups) 
strive to maintain or improve rhcir 
position in social space. 

The synoptic schema, by bringing 
together information from areas 
which the usual dassificatory sys- 
tems separate — so much so rhac they 
make mere juxtaposition appear un- 
thinkable or scandalous — and so 
making manifest the relarionships 
among all the properries and prac- 
tices characteristic of a group, which 
are perceived intuitively and which 
guide the classifications of everyday 
life, forces one to look for the basis 
of each of these systems of 'choices', 
on the one hand in the social condi- 
tions and conditionings characteris- 
tic of a given position in objective 
social space, which are expressed in 
rhose choices bur in a misiecognij- 
able form; and on the other hand, 
in their relationship to the other 
systems of 'choices', by reference to 
which (heir specifically symbolic 
meaning and value are defined. Be- 
cause Jife-styJes are essentially dis- 
tinctive, a number of features do 
not take on their full significance 
until they are brought into relation 
not only wirh the social positions 
ihey express but also with features 
appearing at an opposite pole of this 
space. This is the case, for example, 
wirh the oppositions which are es- 
tablished primordially between the 

positions mosr remote from ^t 
other in one or both of the f Un j 
mental dimensions of social s p ac 
(i.e., with respect co volume and 
composition of capital): Goya 1,0 
Renoir, avant-garde thearre and K-. 
levard theatre, Jacques Brel arid 
Tino Rossi, France- M us ique and 
France-Inter or Radio Luxembo u . 
cinema clubs and variety shows z^A 
so forth, 

In addition to the informarion 
gathered directly by the survey, { 
have used a number of indices of 
cultural consumption, such as poj. 
session of a piano Of records, TV- 
viewing, visits to museums, cxhibi- 
tions, variety shows and the cinema 
membership in a library, evening 
classes, collections, sports, aJl taken 
from the 1967 INSEE survey on lei- 
sure activities (CS. IV); informa- 
tion on the consumption and 
life-styles of members of the domi- 
nant class (hi-fi equipment, sailing, 
cruises, bridge, picture collections, 
champagne, whisky, sports etc.) 
from surveys by the SOFRES and 
CESP (CS. V and VI); information 
on theatre-going from a survey by 
SEMA (Sociere d'economie et dc 
marhematiques appliquees) (CS. 
XIV); on favourite actors, from the 
surveys by IFOP (Irisricui francos 
de Topinion publique) (CS. XIV); 
on the reading of daily and weekly 
newspapers and magazines, from ihc 
surveys by the CSE (Centre de 
so iologie curopeenne) and CESP 
(CS. XXVIII); and on various 
cultural activities (ceramics, 
pottery, funfairs etc) from the sur 
vey by rhc Ministry of Culture 
(CS. VII). 

In the resulting figure, each p^ 1 
nenr ircm appears only once *no '* 
therefore valid for a whole zone ( p 
varying extent depending on the 
case) of social space, although i r 

a [ y characterizes the care- 

^ry 10 ^ages/salaries', marked 
V itC fhe left-hand side of fig- 
U'^oPPO*^ io "industrial and 

corf" 1 ^/ the left hand s ' d of che 
*' b ° ]C ° ce 'e ^ the univcrsiry 

ana s^° cDg j n eers and also the pn- 
''^Uner^^r executives, 
(WV . ln5 clerical workers and 
'^^i workers. Similarly, che item 
^IS and shares'-top "ght-»P- 
lm W employers, the professions, 

P vate-«< ror cxccurivcs »* **T 
P ^) it can be seen immediarcly 

dd*d the Qwertojor the Ufi 
/Ware mosr typical of members 
of the professions; rhar walking and 
mountaineering are particularly 

characreristic of secondary teachers 
and public-sector executives* or rhat 
swimming, placed half way between 
the new petite bourgeoisie and the 
private-sector executives or rhe engi- 
neers, belongs to the life-style of 
both these sets of occupations. 
Thus, grouped around the name of 
each class fraction are those features 
of its life-style which arc rhe most 
pcrrinent because rhey are the most 
distinctive — though it may in fart 
share them with other groups. This 
is rhe case, for example, with the 
use of a library, which appears in 
rhe area of the junior execurives, 
primary teachers and technicians, al- 
though it is at least as frequent 
among secondary and univcrsiry 
teachers; bur the latter are less 
marked by the practice since it is 
part of their occupational role. 

rion strategics. The reconversion of capital held in one form to anorher, 
more accessible, more profitable or more legitimate form tends to induce 
a transformarion of asset structure. 

These reconversions correspond to movements in a social space which 
has nothing in common with the unreal and yet naively realisric space of 
so-called 'social mobiiiry' srudies. The same posirivisric naivcry which 
«es 'upward mobility 1 in rhe morphological transformations of different 
classes or fractions is also unaware that the reproducrion of rhe social 
"rycturc may, in certain conditions, demand very little 'occupational he- 
^'ty This is rrue whenever agents can only maintain their position in 
social structure by means of a shift into a new condition (e.g., the 
m r from small landowner ro junior civil servant, or from small crafts- 

JJJ t° office worker or commercial employee). 

he social space, beine structured in two dimensions (overall capital 

^umc a rr i . . ,j . ■ ix 11 r ' 

^ na dominant/dominated capital), allows two types of move* 

way j* ich traditional mobility studies confuse, although they are in no 

or^g Va ' erK am * are unequally probable: vertical movements, upwards 

fifcQj I ? war ^ s » in rhe same vcrrical sector, that is, in the same field (e.g., 

nejs m ^teacher to professor, or from small businessman ro big busi* 

li'ay '• an< * transverse movements, from one field to anorher, which 

^all . r either horizontally (a schoolteacher, or his son, becomes a 

P^ecper) or between different levels (a shopkeeper, or his son, 

becomes an industrialist). Vertical movements, the most frequent 
only require an increase in the volume of the type of capital already a^ 
nam in the asset srructure. and therefore a movement in the stry Ct ^ 
the distribution of total capital which rakes the form of a mov J^ 
wirhin a field (business field, academic field, administrative field, rrJj^ 
field ere). Transverse movements entail a shift into another field ari? ,c ^ 
reconversion of one type of capital into another or of one sub-tyh. ^ 
another sub-type (e.g., from landowning to industrial capita] or from? 11 
erature to economics) and therefore a transformation of asset stru ''■ 
which prorects overall capital volume and maintains position i n tne Ul * 
tical dimension. ft 

The probability of entering a given fraction of the dominant class fro m % 
other class is, as we have seen, in inverse ratio to the position of that f^ 
tion in rhe hierarchy of economic capital. (The only exception is the 
'liberal professions', which tend to transmir both economic and cultural 
capital and have the highest rate of endogenous recruirment.) Similarly, 
major sideways movements wirhin the class (industrialists' sons becoming 
seeondaiy or higher -education teachers, or vice versa) are exrremely rare 
Thus, in 1970, the probability of becoming an industrial or commercial em- 
ployer was 1.9 percent for a professor's son, and the probability of becom- 
ing a teacher was 08 percenr for an industrialist's son and 1.5 percent for i 
commercial enrrepreneur*s son. The probability of becoming a craftsman w 
shopkeeper was 1.2 percent for a primary teacher's son, and the probability 
of becoming a primary teacher was 2.4 percent for a craftsman's son and 1,4 
percent for a small shopkeeper's son (C.S. II, secondary analysis). 

class mobility and MOBtLE classes The recent changes in the rda 
t tons hip between the different classes and the educational system — wi'* 1 
the 'schooling boom' and rhe accompanying changes in the system it- 
self- -and also the changes in the social struct ute resulting from the ne» 
relationship between qualifications and jobs, are the consequences of in " 
tensified competition for academic qualifications. One important ftf r ° r 
in intensifying rhis competition has doubtless been the fact mat w& 
fractions of the dominant class and middle class who ate richest to ** 


tradesmen) have had to make greatly increased 

nomic capital (i.e., industrial and commercial employers, craftsmen PJ 

use of the education* 1 

system in order to ensure their social reproduction. 

The disparity between the scholastic capital of the adults of a class or & 
fraction (measured by rhe proportion who have a qualification equal or 
perior to the BEPC) and the schooling race of the corresponding adoles- 
cents is much more pronounced among craftsmen, shopkeepers and , 
industrialists than among office workeis and junior execurives. This *!**% 
in the usual correspondence between rhe children's eduearional P arl ' f '[rL^ 
rates and rhe parents* cultural capital indicates a profound change in u ,5 r 

r( j s scholastic investment Many fewer small craftsmen and 
rio" 5 t0 * S i£cd 45-54 than office wotkets have at least the BEPC (in 
hop^^ rcof ** against 10.1 percent), but their 18 year old sons are 
!#£• 5 "rifely to be in school (42.1 percent and 43,3 percent in 1962). Simi- 
rt^'^'J'srrialisf* an( * commcrc ' a ' enttepreneurs have less educational capi- 
lariy ' ^nicians and junior executives (20 percent and 28,9 percent 
fj] th3n v I|y have at least rhe BEPC), but their sons are equally likely to be 
[esp^ 1 *, ?g. 3 percent and 64.2 percent), The same process has begun 
id scbfi° workers, as is shown by the rapid rise in their children's 

l** 1 ! I raW between \%2 and i975. J4 

^f^Ung __ — 

\y/hen c ' aSS ^ ract ' ons wn0 previously made little use of the school sys- 
ter the ra cc for academic qualifications, rhe effect is to force the 
rtftl ty; whose reproduction was mainly or exclusively achieved through 
education to step up their investments so as to maintain the relative scar- 
city f their qualifications and, consequently, their position in the class 
structure. Academic qualifications and the school system which awards 
rhem thus become one of the key stakes in an interdass competition 
which generates a general and continuous growth in the demand for 
education and an inflation of academic quali ft cartons. 

To the effects of the competition between groups struggling for 'upclassing* 
and against 'down classing* (deciassemmt), a competition that is organized 
around the academic qualification {litre) and more generally around alt the 
'entitlements' by which groups assert and constitute their own scarcity 
value vis-a-vis othet groups, musr be added the effect of what might be 
termed a urutturat factor. Generally increased schooling has rhe effect of in- 
creasing the mass of cultural capital which, at every moment, exists in an 
Vtnbodied* state. Since rhe success of the school's educarive action and the 
durability of *« effects depend on how much cultural capital has been 
"trecfly transmtrred by the family, it can be presumed thai rhe efficiency of 
fcnool based educative acrion tends to rise constantly, other things being 
fac k" 5norr ' r ^ c samc scholastic investment becomes more profitable, a 
r u* f vo doubt contributes to inflation by bringing diplomas within 
■J^[Vgrea ter^ num ber of people. 

^ n > rin S In mind that the volume of corresponding jobs may also have 
to ha ° VCr ^ C Samc P cn0 ^' onc may assume that a qualification is likely 
gtiwr/ un ° Cr S°ne devaluation if the number of diploma-holders has 
5^^ rn te rapidly than the number of suitable positions. Everything 
ones rn Su ^S e3r tbat the hactalameal and 10u>er qualifications ate the 
°^ v iou j Ccr ^ k v such devaluation. To this must be added the less 
s PorKlin CValuart °n resulting from the facr that if the number of corre- 

S ° me of l° ^ 0CS ^P P acc ' tnc P os ' r ' ons themselves are likely to lose 
"** a * all 1 ^ ] C2TCH y valuc Tn,s is whar has happened, for example, to 
Th c . evels of the teaching profession. 


' rapid growth in girls' and women's education has been a sig- 

nificant factor in the devaluing of academic qualifications. Becau*. 

women now bring academic qualifications onto the labour market wk^ 
previously were partly held in reserve (and were 'invested' only ij. J* 
marriaoe marker^: and rhe hieher rhe dinloma. the mote mart^ ^ 

image of the division oflabour between the sexes has also changed w, * 


marriage market); and the higher the diploma, the mote marked 
growth has been (see table 10). Just as all segregation (by sex 0f ^ 
orher criterion) tends to slow down devaluation by its numerus cL 
effect, so all desegregation tends to restore full strength to the devak- 
mechanisms; and, as an American study of the effects of racial dcseijre 
tion has shown, the least qualified are the ones who feel the effects m 

Indeed, it presents no paradox to suggest that the chief victims of I}*, 
devaluing of academic qualifications are those who enter the lak^ 
market without such qualifications. The devaluation of diplomas U ^ 
companied by the gradual extension of the monopoly held by academic 
qualification-holders over positions previously open to the academical^ 
unqualified, which has the effect of limiting the devaluation of qualifies, 
tions by limiting the competition, but only at the cost of restricting the 
career openings available to the unqualified and of reinforcing the aca- 
demic predetermination of occupational opportunity. In certain areas, 
particularly the civil service, this leads to a decline borh in the dispersal of 
the holders of the same qualifications among different jobs and in the 
dispersal of the qualifications of holders of equivalent jobs, or, in other 
words, a reinforced correlation between academic qualification and job 

The market in jobs open to formally qualified candidates has grown 
constantly, inevitably at the expense of the formally unqualified- Univer- 
sal recognition of academic qualifications no doubt has the effect of 
unifying the official set of qualifications for social positions and of clitw- 
nating local anomalies due to the existence of social spaces with then 
own rank-ordering principles. However, academic qualifications nevtf 
achieve total, exclusive acceptance. Ourside the specifically schola^ 
market, a diploma is worrh what irs holder is worth, economically 4^ 
socially; the race of return on educational capital is a function of the eco- 
nomic and social capital that can be devoted to exploiting if 

The change in the distribution of posts among qualification-hold^ 

Table 10 Rate of" employment of women aged 25-34. by education, l962ano^> 


1962 4>.S 59.7 59 8 67.1 " 7 j 

1968 46,5 60 6 65.5 74,3 

Source: i?68 census. 

a. It was nor possible to isolate women without qualifications. 

| (S auromatically from the increased number of formally quali- 
^h'^ rtieans that at every moment a propotrion of the qualifica- 

jfifid »#i . s rarting } no doubt, with those who are least well endowed 

[10**? inherited means of exploiting their qualifications — are victims 
*' f k luatioa The strategies by which those who are most subject to 
V3 ion endeavour to fight against it, in the short term (in the 
<k f their own careers) or in the long term (through the strategies 
coUfSe by for their children's schooling), constitute one of the deci- 
ib c Y £ rt - n the growth in the volume of qualifications awarded, which 
S ' if -onttibufcs to devaluation. The dialectic of devaluation and com- 
Jt$C sanon thus tends to feed on itself. 

svensioN strategies and morphological transformations 

fhe strategies which individuals and families employ with a view ro safe- 

uarding or improving their position in social space are reflccred in 

fransformafions which modify both the volume of rhe difTeiem class 

fractions and the structure of their assets. 

Table 1 1 has been constructed so as ro give at least an approximate idea of 
these transformations Since if was not possible (though it would have 
been desirable) to establish in narrowly defined categories the changes in 
total income and income structure for rhe period 1954-1975 (insread, table 
12 indicates these changes, in broad categories, for the period 1954-1968), 1 
have indicated the distribution by source of income and the total income 
declared to rhe tax authorities, the source used by 1NSEE. 1 1 is known, 
however, that the degree of underestimation vanes greatly. According to 
A Villencuve," wages and salaries should be multiplied by 11, farmers' 
profits by 3.6, invcsimenr income by 2,9 and so forth Once these correc- 
tions arc applied, the members of rhe professions, and especially the farmers, 
craftsmen and small shopkeepers, return to their real places 

he categories (relatively) richest in economic capiral (as represented by 
£ '^tors such as stocks and shares, rural or urban propcrry etc) tend to 
on^f" 1 ' s ^ arp,y " ** ls shown by rhe decline in their volume (in the case 
Klati! i mCr *' craftsmcn > shopkeepers and industrialists) and by the fall or 
%; h^ Sma " inCrcasc ,n rn e proportion of young people. (The feet that 
txp]^. n J?? r CKcurfC d in the 'small shopkeeper' and 'craftsman' categories is 
of l he at) ^ C com ' n 8 °^ a ncw st y' c of shopkeeper and craftsman.) Parr 
tal f t S° rCnt increase in the educational (and, no doubt, economic) capj- 
lumb^^^T ca fl tc 8° r ' cs ^ probably due to the fact that the reduction in their 

By ct )n y concerns their lower strara. 
tl0j)a I QuaU 1 ^ ^ raclions » cncS( " n cultural capital (measured by cduca- 
^"S pcoDl' Cai,0nS ^ haVC £ rcat * y Cx P an dcd. They hav e acquired more 
110,1,1 S^altf' 3 highcr P r °portion of women, and a higher rate of educa 
*^n a**d k ,Qn TtlC care S orics ^osr typical of this process are office 
thT* Cc »che \i Wor,cers ' technicians, junior and senior executives, pri- 
^crlinltV "P^Hy secondaiy and tertiary teachers (in the bst case 
cd changes 2 re particularly intense). Among engineers, how- 



























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„ process seems to have stopped, since the rate of increase is lower 
p<t' ' ungesr generacion than for the group as a whole. Another remark 
fa f f ^ C re is the relative stability of the 'libera! professions', «>hose deliber- 
a tJc i of tut* 1 *?** datum has pievenred numerical growth and 
3 [C P° ioU and helped to mainrain scarcity value 
^ rf, ' nl cw reproduction strategies which underlie these morphological 

**ft*L afC seen parrly in the increased importance of salaries in the income 
chaniP^ c j ona |iy 'self-employed* categories and parrty in the diversified 
of £tie j investments of the senior executives, who tend to hold their capi- 
a3SC ' S borh ec onom i c ^ n ^ cultural form, unlike the employers, who mainly 

\A econ om ^ capital Salaries and pensions, as a proportion of employers' 
h « rise f rom l2 - 9 percent in 1956 to 16.4 percent in 1965; in 1975, 
inC< w new classifications, they make up 19-2 percent of the income of crafts- 
men and small shopkeepers and 31 8 percent of the income of industrialism 
n<£ commercial entrepreneurs* (By contrast, among farmers* the proportion 
3 mains "Hich the same 23.8 percent in 1956, 23 5 percent in 1965 and 
5*0 percent in 1975) In 1975, the proportion of income derived from in- 
vestment in tend, buildings, stocks and shares is much higher among pri- 
vate sector r h an public-sector senior executives (59 percent and 2.7 percent 
respect ively) 

The reconversion of economic capital into educational capital is one of 
the strategies which enable the business bourgeoisie to maintain the po- 
sition of some or all of its heirs, by enabling them to extract some of the 
profirs of industrial and commercial firms in rhe form of salaries, which 
aft a more discreet — and no doubt more reliable — mode" of appropriation 
ihan 'unearned' investment income. Thus, between 1954 and 1975 the 
proportion of industrial and commercial entrepreneurs fell sharply, 
whereas there was a very strong rise in the proportion of salary-earners, 
who owed their position to their academic qualifications — executives, en- 
gineers, teachers and intellect uals (although, at least in che case of pri- 
vate-sector executives, a significant proportion of total income may be 
derived from shares, as table 13 indicates). Similarly, the disappearance of 
m any small commercial or craft firms conceals the reconversion work 
which individual agents perform, with varying degrees of success, in ac- 
cordance with the demands of their particular situation, and which re 
%a ts m a transformarion of the relative weight of the different fractions 
^e middle classes (see table 14). Here, too, the decrease in the pro- 
P°»ion of small shopkeepers, craftsmen, and farmers has been aceompa 
by an increase in the proportion of primaty-school teachers, 
nictans, and the personnel of the medical and social services. 
p ro u ""ermore, the relative morphological stability of an occupational 
con ^^ concca * a transformation of its structure resulting from the 
tw J* t0n * fl s * tu of agents present in the group at the beginning of the 
gr (or their children) or their replacement by agents from orher 
P$ For example, rhe relatively small decline in rhe overall volume of 

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or y 'shopkeepers', consisting very largely (93 percent) of the 
the ci f email individual firms which have been able to withstand the 
^ftf 15 ° j v because of increased household consumption, conceals a 
the $«ucuire of this occupation. The stagnation or decline of 

a - |0 

^ h * P ^Lnd stores, particularly hard hit by supermarket competition, an 
& 1 hinj? stores has almost been balanced by a growth in rhe retail- 
**" ( yco™ 00 ^' domestic equipment (including furniture, interior 
ifl£ ° . g jfid so on) and especially sports, leisure and cultural goods 
dcc ot * rcc0 fds etc ) and pharmaceuticals It may be assumed that, even 
Wjj! r^d retailing, the figures tend to conceal changes that have led to 
Wl ' ressivc redefinition of the occupation; the closing-down of small 
4 ? rv stores an ^ rura ' bakeries may coexist with the opening of shops 
i , diet foods, 'natural' regional products and health foods, or ofbak- 
fncs specialijirig in old-style bread. 

These changes in the nature of retail firms — which arc related to 
hinges, over the same period, in the structure of household consump- 
M tfi rhemselves telaced to the growth in incomes and above all co the 
increase in cultural capital resulting from the upward shift of the struo 
lure of educational opportunity — are dialecricaily linked to a rise in the 
cultuial capital of their owners or managers. 

Everything suggests that the 'craftsman* category has undergone 
changes veiy similar to the 'shopkeeper 1 category, with the decline of the 
mos: exposed strata of traditional craftsmanship being offset by the boom 
in luxwy and aesrhcric' crafts, which require economic assets bur also 
cultural capital This would explain why the fell in the volume of these 
middle-class categories is accompanied by a rise in cultural capital as 
measured by educarional level- 

Craftsmen and tradesmen specializing in luxury, cultural or artistic 
Kerns, managers of fashion 'bouriqucs*. rerailers of 'famous maker* 
clothes, traders in exotic garments and jewels or rustic objects, record 
dealers, antique dealers, interior decorators, designees, photographers, res- 
^ratcurs, managers of trendy 'bistros', Provencal 'potters', avant-garde 
sellers, ^j fnosc vendors of cultural goods and services seeking to 
F ong t h c f U5 j on Q ( i c j surc aru j work, militancy and dilettantism, that 

characterize* 2 Zt \_ * u- ■ ■ 

*Ki h student lire-style, use their ambiguous occupations, in 

the , sUCCess depends at least as much on rhe subtly casual distinction of 
rainin CSmai1 38 on the nature and quality of his wares, as a way of ob- 
CtI Ke i return on a cultural capital in which technical compe* 

dais , ss imporrani rnan familiarity with the culture of the dominant 
cause rh ^ mascci y °f the signs and emblems of distinction and taste. Be- 
er "abl cs ,S nrcv r yP c of culture-intensive craftsmanship and commerce 
"^tly by ikT f t0 c ^ rawn ^ rom tnc cultural henitage transmirted di- 
^d d, /* "mily, jr is predisposed ro serve as a refuge for those sons 
t!0r U] sy^ tc (CrS °* thc dominant class who are eliminated by the educa- 

time TO understand Among rhc effects of the inflarion of q Ua j. 
tions and their associated devaluation, undoubtedly the most irmv\ 
are the set of strategies whereby the holders of devalued qualify, *ty 
have sought to maintain their inherited positions or to obtain f r0rn J^l 
qualifications the real equivalent of what they guaranteed in an -.^ 
stare of the relationship between diplomas and jobs. ^ 

It is clear chat what an academic qualification guarantees is much 
than, and different from, the right to occupy a position and th^ can-^ 
to perform the corresponding job. In this respect the diploma {//, lt 1 
la/rt) is more like a parent of nobility {titre de noblesse) than rhe tj t t 
property {titre de propriete) which strictly technical definirions make of ' 
So one can well undersrand that the victims of devaluation are dj,' 1 ' 
clined to perceive and acknowledge the devaluing of qualifications v 
which rhey are closely identified, both objectively (rhey constitute 
important part of these people's social identiry) and subjectively. But tk 
concern ro preserve self esteem, which encourages attachment [0 ,^ 
nominal value of qualificarions and jobs, would nor be sufficient to 
maintain a misperception of this devaluation, if there were not aJso sou* 
complicity from objective mechanisms. The mo r importanr of these ait 
first, the hysteresis of habitus, which causes previously appropriate «fr 
gories of perception and appreciation to be applied to a new state of (he 
qualification marker; and, second, the existence of relatively autonomous 
markets in which the value of qualifications declines at a slower rate 

The hysteresis effect is proper rionarcly grearer for agents who are morc 
remote from the educational system and who are poorly or only vaguely 
informed about the market in educational qualificarions. One of the 
most valuable sorts of information constituting inherited cultural capital 
is practical or theoretical knowledge of rhe fluctuations of the market in 
academic qualifications, the sense of investment which enables one to get 
the best return on inherited culrural capital in rhe scholastic market <x 
on scholastic capital in the labour market, for example, by knowing B* 
right moment to pull our of devalued disciplines and careers * n ° 
switch into chose with a fururc, rarher than clinging to the scholar* 
values which secured the highest profits in an earlier state of the tnit T^ 
By contrast, rhe hysteresis effect means that the holders of devalued 
plomas become, in a sense, accomplices in their own mystification, si 
by a typical effect of allockxia ('misapprehension'), rhey besto^ * *_- ^ 
on their devalued diplomas which is not objectively acknowledged. 
explains how those least informed about the diploma market, * "^ [( . 

long been able to recognize a decline in real wages behind the °V^ 
nance of nominal wages, can nonetheless continue ro accept an r u^' 

paper certificates which rhey receive in payment for their years o*** .^ 
ing (despite the fact chat chey arc che first victims of diploma de 
tion, because of their lack of social capital). Antt^ 

This actachmcnc co an anachronistic idea of the vjiluc of quali" 

playS a part ' n the existence of markets in which diplomas can 
d 0U j at Jcast) escape devaluation The value objectively and sub- 
(«pP 3l f "nbced on an academic qualification is in fact defined oniy by che 
\cc& y f rnc social uses that can be made of ir. Thus the evaluation of 
^'^as by the closest peer groups, such as relatives, neighbours, fellow 
jiplo^ , oncs 'class* or 'year 1 ) and colleagues, can play an important 
j,ude * L: np (he effects of devaluation. These phenomena of individ- 
rO' c , collective mtsrecognition are in no way illusory, since they can 
eal, especially the individual and collective strategies 
° nCil \ establishing or re establishing the objective icaJicy of the value 
^Mt qualift carion or position; and these strategies can make a real con- 
^butiori toward actual tevaluation. 

tri . t he transactions in which the market value of academic qualifies- 
i s denned, the strength of the vendors of labour power depends — 
fl °tine aside their social capital — on the value of their diplomas, espe- 
-ijv when the relationship between qualifications and jobs is strictly 
codified (as is the case with established positions, as opposed to new 
ones) So it is clear that the devaluation of academic diplomas is of direct 
advantage to the suppliers of jobs, and that, while the intere ts of qualifi- 
caiion-holdeis are bound up with the nominal value of qualifications, Le., 
with what they guaranteed by right in the earlier situation, the interests 
of job suppliers are bound up with the real value of qualifications, in 
oiher words, the value that is determined at the moment in question in 
the compeiltion among the candidates. (This is a srxucrural de-skilling 
[Qualification} which aggravates the effects of the deskilling strategies 
that firms have been using for a long time.) The gicatest losers in this 
struggle are those whose diplomas have least relative value in the hierar- 
chy of diplomas and are most devalued. In some case the qualification- 
holder fads he has no other way to defend the value of his qualification 
t™ 11 to refuse to sell his labour power at the price offered; the decision co 
wroain unemployed is then equivalent to a one-man strike. 26 


the ^ HtAT,NG OF A generation In a period of 'diploma inflation' 
ispAnry between the aspirations that the educational system pro- 
feefe M ^ C °PP orrunitics it really offers is a structural reality which af- 
depcrid' members of a school generation, bur to a varying extent 

N{ tw 8 on the rarity of their qualifications and on rheir social origins, 
acc^ " ierS C ° sccon( ^ ar y education are led, by the mere fact of having 
^ty tht lC ' f ° Cx P ect ir to £ ,vc r hem what it gave others at a time when 
oih tr ^ nts e !v cs were still excluded from it. In an earlier period and for 
^rrfed* 3 ^' r ^ CSC as P^ rat ^ on s were perfectly realistic, since they corre- 
r ^ c v ?r 4 t0 Elective probabilities, but they are often quickly deflated by 

^^KeTV* X ^ C scno ^ asr ' c markct or the labour marker One of the 

* hc n ^ °* what is called the 'democratization of schooling' is that only 

• worki n g classes, who had previously ignored or at best vaguely 

concurred in the Third Republic ideology of 'schooling as a libera 
force' (I'ecoie ijberatrice), actually entered secondary education, did tl ^j 
discover I'e'cok conservatnee, schooling as a conseivarive force, by w*J 
relegated to second-class courses or eliminated. The collective disj|] u . g 
menr which results from the structural mismatch between aspir- ^ 
and real probabilities, between the social identiry the school syste^ -J** 
to promise, or the one it offers on a temporary basis, and the social T? 1 
city that the labour market in fact offers is the source of the disaiTfv - 
towards work, that refusal of social ftiitztdtt which generates all the rrf* 1 
als and negations of the adolescent counter culture. v 

This discordance — and the disenchant menr ir engenders — takes t. 
that are objectively and subjectively different in the various social cliJr 
Thus, for working-class youngsters, the transit through secondary schorii 
ing and through the ambiguous status of a 'student 1 , temporarily f^i 
from the demands of the world of work, produces misfirings of the di 
lectio of aspirations and probabilities which led their predecessors to * 
cept their social destiny, almost always unquestioningly, and sometimes 
with positive eagerness (like the miners' sons who used to identify chcir 
entry into manhood with their first descent into the mine). The J^. 
chantment with their work that is felt and expressed particularly acutely 
by the most obvious victims of downdassing, such as bmcalaurw- 
holders obliged to take jobs as factory workers or postmen, is, in a way, 
common to a whole generation. It finds expression in unusual forms of 
struggle, protest and escapism that the organizations traditionally in- 
volved in industrial or political struggle find hard to understand, because 
something more than working conditions is at stake These young peo- 
ple, whose social identity and self-image have been undermined by aso- 
cial system and an educational system that have fobbed them off with 
worthless paper, can find no other way of restoring their personal and so- 
cial integrity than by a total refusal, It is as if they felt that what is * [ 
stake is no longer just personal failure, as the educational system encour- 
ages them to believe, but rather the whole logic of the academic insula- 
tion. The structural deskilling of a whole generation, who are bound » 
get less out of their qualifications than the previous generation * T 0UW 
have obtained, engenders a sort of collective disillusionment: a v ^°^ 
generation, finding it has been taken for a ride, is inclined to extend 
all institutions the mixture of revolt and resentment it feels towart v^ 
educational system- This anti-institutional cast of mind (which dfl^ 
strength from ideological and scientific critiques) points rowards *^ 
nunciation of the raoit assumptions of rhe social order, a practical * a ?j^ 
sion of doxic adherence to the prizes it offers and the values it P^°f^5 
and a withholding of the investments which are a necessaiy conoid 
its functioning. j^ 

So it is understandable that, not only within families but also * n ^l 
cation al institutions and political or union organizarions, and * , ° 

**H lines 


'First I did marker research surveys, 
I had a friend in L who was into 
char i got a lisr of all rhe research 
firms in Paris. After two months 
phoning and writing, finally I got 
something. Then, several months 
brer, they still hadn't got in touch 
with me. They weren't doing any 
more surveys, I was entitled to un- 
employment benefit, a thousand 
francs a month. We lived on that 
for seven monrhs, rhen we did two 
months' grape-picking. Then I went 
back ro surveys for seven months, 
working free-lance. Then I quit; the 
place was full of lesbians and chey 
gave out rhe work to rheir fa- 
vourites, so I got out. Anyway, we 
each work a bit in turns. In this 
sort of sociery, work isn't the main 
rhing in life. Now, if things were 
run the way they are in China, 1 
mighr want ro work ren hours a 
day* (H., age 24, baccalaurear and a 
few monrhs in an Arrs faculty; fa- 
ther; private means) 

'Once you've flunked your bac, 
you're already in the shit. There are 
no possible careers and rhe jobs you 
can find arc completely useless. 

'All the jobs I did were boring* so 
I saved up some money so I could 
stop working for a few months. 
Anyway, I prefer ro stop once in a 
while so I don'r ger into a rut. 

'After I failed the bac, I spent rhe 
summer working as a monitor in a 
vacation camp. Then I gor a job 
with a newspaper in Drenx. \ was a 
rrainee sub-ediror but afrer two 
months if was time to rake our my 
union card so I wenr free-lance. Bur 
I didn't seem to fit in. Eveiything 1 
wrote, they went through with a 

fine-rooth comb. I djd phoros . 
Bur there was a power strugo| c - 
rhe paper. I couldn't be bothered 
fight. After six months, they tD 
stopped giving me work, 50 1 \^ t , 
gor taken in by the "public servjj 
myth and I signed on at the Pos t 
Office. I was on sorting for thr^ 
weeks. I couldn't take uny more 1 
was a work eitvironmcnr I'd never 
known before. It wasn'r so much 
the people that gor up my nose as 
the relations between them, rhe taU 
relling. There was no solidarity. 
After three weeks I chucked it in. 
There were five of us auxiliaries, one 
was fired on rhe spor for taking fif- 
rcen minutes' exrra break, so we all 
walked our. The worst of it is that 
you flunk your exams, you hated 
school, and you end up being 
treated as an intellectual. 

'Next I gor a job through the 
employment agency, as a clerk in an 
office dealing with wholesale beef. 
T ere was a row about a bonus that 
wasn'r given ro everyone. There was 
a slanging-match and I got out. fo 
been there two and a half months 
In September I picked grapes and 
rhen I went back to the employ- 
ment agency. I was a courier on a 
scoorer for six monrhs. That wa5 
the craziest thing I've ever done 
It's a ghastly job, you get com 
plerety paranoid on your scooter, 
imagining they're all trying to r ° n 
you down. I chucked ir in, I 
couldn'r take any more. j 

'Afrer rwo months on rhe dole, 
got a remporaty job, jusr for che 
holiday period, on rhe railway^ 

was on electronic rcservanons. 
eraior" they called it r or somet 
like char, and I stayed for four 


? left because I wan ted to 

u>fl*'*' /-nunffy. and that's how 1 &?"«« f">m C. Maihcy, Lent™ Jam U 

n ,n [f lt . /r -,<«- 7i £,i!~J •* ***** Thiers du tent* d'etudes de 

IMj . up Here (U- age <n, raiiea rcmp , ou l5 {?2fi$r PuF . ,977), 479-67* 

L " rt 1 Uf&W» ^ atnCf: pO" ccman; passim (mirrvicwi with 50 unemployed 

fr***** c |urwoman ) . jrou n g people). 

work situation, whenever old-style autodidacts, who starred our 
lP year* ear,icr wirh a &tifa*t dit u d& (CEP) or a BEPC and bound- 
[ n Lcpccr for culture, come inro conracr wich young bmktlim or ncw- 
[ c autodidacts, who bring their ami-institutional stance with them 
rhe institution, the clash of generations ofren cakes the form of a 
l . wdown ovcr the very foundations of the social order. More radical, 
jess self Con fidcnr than rhe usual form of political conrestation, and remi- 
niscent of the mood of the first Romantic generation, this disenchanrcd 
temperament attacks the fundamental dogmas of the petit-bourgeois 
order — 'career*, 'srarus', promotion* and 'gerring on.' 

thii strUcrvle to ke^p vt> The specific contradiction of the scholastic 
mode of reproducrion lies in the opposition between the interesrs of rhe 
class which the educational system seives statntkedly and the inrerests of 
those class members whom it sacrifices, rhat is, the 'failures' who are 
threatened with d&lassemmt for lack of rhe qualifications formally re- 
quired of rightful members. Nor should one forget those holders of qual- 
fteitiom which 'normally 1 — i.e., in an earlier stare of rhe relationship 
between diplomas and jobs — gave access to a bourgeois occupation, who, 
btcauM.- they do not originate from that class, lack the social capital to 
cxtracr rhe full yield from their academic qualifications. The overproduc- 
*°n of qualifications, and the consequent dcv a luarion, tend to become a 
"uctural C onsranr when theoretically equal chances of obtaining qualifi* 
a 'uns arc offered ro all the offspring of rhe bourgeoisie (regardless of 
also" ° r SC *' whi ' C lhc acccss of mher clas ses to rhese qualifications 

emnl nCrtXSCS ^' n a ^^ urc rcrms )- The strategies which one group may 
r °ry f J° ^ t0 csca P c ^ownclassing and to return to their class rrajec- 
Path f cnosc which anorher group employs ro rebuild the interrupted 

3 hoped i* or trajecroiy, arc now one of the most imporranr facrors 
Mr a(cj;, rransformar ' 0n of socia ' srrucrures The individual substitution 
turns' WhlcH Cnablc thc holders of a social capital of inherired 'con- 
t Hi!, trnu r ° makc "P for rheir Jack of formal qualificarions or to get the 

k^ucra refUrn ^ rom tnosc chc y navc - ^y moving into relatively un- 
,n ° rc ilia ? rMS °^ S ° cia ' S ^ aCC ^ wncre soc * al dispositions count for 

^•ectivt" acadcm, eally guaranteed 'competences'), are combined with 
^ °btai Strarc ^ cs aim ed at asserting the value of formal qualifications 
ntr i£ the rewards rhcy secured in an earlier stare of the market. 

Whereas in 1962 only 1.5 percent of 
semi-skilled workers aged 15-24 had 
the BEPC, and 0.2 percenr the bac- 
caUureat or a htg ler diploma, in 
1975 the corresponding percentages 
were 8.2 and l.O. Among white- 
collar workers, where by 1962 even 
in the oldesr age- group there was a 
relatively high percentage of di- 
ploma holders, the proportion of the 
very highly qualified rose faster 
among the young, so that by \975 a 
larger proportion of them had 
higher qualifications than did the 
older workers (in 1962, 25.0 percent 
of office workers aged 1 5-24 had the 
BEPC, 2 percent the baccafaureat, 
and 0.2 percent a higher education 
degree, compared with 38.0 percent, 
8.0 percent and LO percent in 1975; 
the corresponding figures in 1975 
for older sraflf members were 16,1 
percent. 3.3 percent and 1,4 per- 
cent). In addition to all the changes 
in the relations between colleagues 
of different generations that arc im- 
plied in these statistics, one has ro 
bear in mind the changed relation 
to work which results from putting 
agenrs with higher qualifications 
into jobs that are often de-s killed 
(by automation and all the forms of 
job mechanization which have 
turned white-collar staff into the 
production-line workers of the great 
bureaucracies). There is every reason 
to think that the opposition be- 
tween the somewhat strict and even 
stuffy rigour of the older staff and 
the casual style of the younger 
workers, which is doubtless per- 
ceived as sloppiness, especially when 
it includes long hair and a beard 
(rhe traditional emblems of the bo- 
hemian artist or intellectual )t ex- 
presses rather more rhan a simple 
generation gap. 

The combined effect is to encourage the creation of a large numk_ 
semi-hourgeatt positions, produced by redefining old positions or {?* °f 
ing new ones, and designed to save unqualified 'inheritors' fro m A **"■ 
classing and to provide parvenus with an approximate pay off f 0r *fc 
devalued qualifications, ^l 

The strategies agents use to avoid the devaluation of their diplom- 
grounded in the discrepancy between opportunities objectively aVa :i jj 
at any given moment and aspirations bas d on an earlier structure of l 
jective opportunities. This discrepancy, which is particularly acute a t 
rain moments and in certain social positions, generally reflects a failure 
achieve the individual orcollecrivc occupational rrajecroiy which was*° 
scribed as an objective potentiality in the former position and in th c 
jeetoty leading to it When this 'broken trajectory' effect occurs— fa 
example, in the case of a man whose father and grandfather were poiyttrk 
nkimi and who becomes a sales engineer or a psychologist, or in the case 
of a law graduare who, for lack of social capital, becomes a communiiv 
cultural worker— the agenr's aspirations, flying on above his real trajec- 
tory like a projectile carried on by its own inertia, describe an idcaJ m. 
jeetoty that is no less real, or is at any rate in no way imaginary in the 
ordinary sense of the word. This impossible objective potentiality, in- 
scribed at the deepest level of their dispositions as a sort of blighted hope 
or frustrated promise, is the common factor, behind ah rheir differences, 
between those sons and daughters of the bourgeoisie to whom the edu- 
carional system has nor given the means of pursuing the trajectory mosr 
likely for their class and rhosc sons and daughters of the middle and 
working classes who have not obtained the rewards which their academic 
qualifications would have guaranteed in an earlier state of rhe market 
— two categories who are particularly likely to try to move inro the new 

Agents who seek to avoid downclassing can either produce new occu 
pations more closely matching their pretensions (which were social") 
justified in an earlier state of relations between qualifications and jobs) or 
can refurbish the occupations to which their qualifications do give access, 
redefining and upgrading them in accordance with their pretension 
When agenrs Starr to arrive in a job who possess qualifications differ* 1 
from those of the usual occupants, they bring hitherro unknown ap* 1 " 
tudes, dispositions and demands with them into their relation with tn 
job, in terms of both its technical and social definition; and this nccesS L 
ily causes changes in the job itself. Among rhe mosr visible changes 
seived when the newcomers have high qualifications aie an intensJ 
division of labour, with autonomous status being given ro some ° v lA 
tasks previously performed, in principle or in practice, by less I 11 ' ;,| 
jacks-of-all-rrades (e.g., the diversification of the education and sc* 
welfare fields); and, often, a r definition of careers, relared ro the c J 
gence of expectations and demands rhat aie new in both for" 1 


' -far the br ^ w * cn tr, c ^alist, sratic model implied in ccrcain 
of the sociology of work, it h;is to be emphasized char the post 
tr^' r '°h reduced tirh r to the theoretical post, i.e., as described in regula 
r* * 10 ' itulars or or g an i 2af ion charts, or to the real posr, i.e., as described 
(, ° nS ' C hasis of observation of the occupants r al function, or even to the 
on ^ c Ljp between the two. In fact, posts, as regaxds both their thcoreri- 
ti^°°? lt j^ n and their practical tcality, are the sire of permanent struggles, 
** ■ h position-holders may clash with their superiors or their suborcfi- 
'" r with the occupanrs of neighbouring and rival positions, or 
i^ (c5, rhems Jvcs (old-timers and newcomers, graduates and non gradu- 
i( nonP on y Those aspiring ro or holding a position may have an inter - 
**** redefining l < ' n such a way that it cannot be occupied by anyone 
**Lrt [h**» tnc possessors of properties identical to their own. (Consider the 
0t peles becw" 11 graduates of ENA and Polytechni^ue or, in the middle 
s ! Jj? between different generations of nurses.) 

There is every reason to suppose that the job redefinition resulting 
from a change in the scholastic properties of the occupants -and all their 
associated propenies — is likely to be more or less extensive depending on 
the (lottiaty of the technical and social definition of the position (which 
is probably greater at higher levels in the hierarchy of positions) and on 
the social origin of the new occupants, since the higher rheir origin, the 
less inclined they will be to accept the limited ambitions of petit- 
bourgeois agents looking for modest, predictable progress over a lifetime. 

These factors are probably not independent Whether led by their 
sense of a good investment and their awareness of the opportunities 
awaiting their capital, or by the refusal ro demean themselves by entering 
one of the established occupations whose elementary definition makes 
them invidious, those sons and daughters of the bourgeoisie who are 
thteatened with downclassing tend to move, if they possibly can, into the 
itjost indererminare of the older professions and into the sectors where 
r c nnv professions are under construction. This 'creative redefinition' is 

c rcfoic found particularly in rhe most ill-defined and professionally un- 

mcturcd occupations and in the newest sectors of cul rural and artistic 
f ^ct ion, such as the big public and private enterprises engaged in cul 
Production (radio, TV, marketing, advertising, social science re- 
rigid" ^ *° on ^' wncre J°^ s anc ' carcers nave not vcr acquired the 
d ? °^ tn c older bureaucratic professions and recruitment is generally 

n abir u * co "°P tlon » that is, on the basis of 'connections' and affinities of 
■j*i fcfbw than formal qualifications. 

th an j. mpans that the sons and daughtets of the Paris bourgeoisie, rather 
i»ig) Ccr v cnr ermga weil-defined and lifelong profession (e.g., tcach- 
t^jj ^ote likely to enter and to succeed in positions, half-way be 

ig\ ™/ entering a weil-defined and lifelong profession (e.g., tcach- 

vpp^ ni ° rc ^kely to enter and to succeed in positions, half-way be 

^u^y^J^^rhood and a profession, thar are offered by the big cultural 


rJ&tai Clcs * °^ cl *P at io ns fc which the specific qualifications (e.g., a 

B photography or filmmaking, or a sociology or psychology 

degree) arc a genuine ticket of entry only for those who are able rosy^ 
ment rhe official qualifications with the real — social— qualification? 

The relative weight of rhe differenr categories involved in the cultural r^. 
duction system has radically changed in the last two decades. The new ^ 
gories of wage-earning producers Created by the development of radio art? 
television and the public and private research bodies (especially in the jq.- 
sciences) have considerably expanded, as has the teaching profession, ^^ 
c tally in its lower strata, whereas the artistic and legal professions, that [T 
intellectual craftsmanship, have declined. These changes, together wirh n*. 
ways of organizing intelleerual life (research committees, brain trusts, thint 
tanks etc.) and new institutionalized modes of communication (confer. 
ences. debates, etc) rend to encourage rhe emergence of intellectual pro- 
ducers more directly subordinated to economic and political demands, 
bringing new modes of thought and expression, new themes and new wi* 
of conceiving inrellecrual work and the role of the intellectual The main 
effcer of these developments — rogerher with the considerable growth in ij^ 
student population, placed in the position of apprentice intellectuals, mj 
the emergence of a whole ser of semi-intellectual occupations — may well be 
to have provided 'intellectual production* wirh something once reserved fa 
'bourgeois art', namely, an audience sufficiently latge to justify the existence 
of specific agencies for production and distribution, and the appearance, <m 
rhe edges of the university field and intellectual field, of a sort of superior 
popularization — of which the nouvtaux phttowpbes are an extreme case. 38 

But the site pat excellence of rhis rype of transformation is to be found 
in rhe group of occupations whose common factor is that they ensures 
maximum return on rhe cultural capital most directly transmitted by cht 
family: good manners, good taste or physical charm. This group include 
rhe aesthetic and semi -aesthetic, intellectual and semi-intellectual occupt 
tions, rhe various consultancy services (psychology, vocational guidaflfr 
speech therapy, beauty advice, marriage counselling, diet advice and* 
on), the educarional and para-educational occupations (youth l«<k* 
runners of day-care centres, cultura I programme organizers) and jobs w 
volving presentation and representation (rour organizers, hostes** 
ciceroni, couriers, radio and TV announcers, news anchormen and <$& 
show hosts, press attaches, public relations people and so on). 

Public and, especially, private bureaucracies are now obliged to perform *"* 
resenradonal and 'hosting* funcrions which are very different in both sC .\ 
and style from those traditionally entrusted to men (diplomats, minister 
attaches and so on) ofren drawn from those fractions of the dominant cl 
(the aristocracy and the old bourgeoisie) who were richest in social cap 1 " 
and in the socializing techniques essential to the maintenance of that car 
ral. The new requirements have led to the emergence of a whole set of 
female occupations and to the establishment of a legitimate market in P*^ 
ical properties. The fact thac certain women derive occupational profit "°^ 

I rr n(s). and that beauty thus acquires a value on the labour market, 
f | v ff" K brleS* helped to produce not only a number of changes in the 
fitf "° u * clothing and cosmerics, but also a whole set of changes in ethics 
pt> rn * definition of the legitimate image of femininity-. Women's maga* 
^fid % j a j] the acknowledged authorities on the body and the leginmar 
ijn^ an uSC ii Transmit the image of womanhood incarnated by those pto 

% fA a j a |] the acknowledged authorities on the body and the leginmare 
ijn^ an uSC ii Transmit the image of womanhood incarnated by those pt 
* ,J,S l °%\ manipulators of bureaucratic charm, who ate rationally selected 

&3fi0 j j n accordance with a strictly programmed career-structure 

&& r soC cialized schools, beaury contests and so on), to fulfil the most tta- 

(*'' i feminine functions in conformity with byreaucraric norms. 

The m°st indeterminate sectors of the social structure offer the most 
bl e ground fot the opetations which, by transfotming old posi- 
or 'creating' new ones ex nihilo y aim to produce areas of specialist 
otrcise, particularly in rhe field of 'consultancy', the perfotmance of 
ujch requires no more than a rationalized form of competence in a class 
culture- Th e constitution of a socially recognized corps of experts 
specializing in advice on sexuality, which is now coming about thtough 
the gradual professional iza Hon of voluntary, philanthropic ot political as- 
sociations, is the paradigmatic form of the process whereby agents tend, 
with that deep conviction of disinterestedness which is the basis of ail 
missionary zeal, ro satisfy their group interests by deploying the legiti- 
mate culture with which they have been endowed by the education sys- 
tem to win the acquiescence of the classes excluded ftom legitimate 
culture, in ptoducing the need for and the rariry of rheir class culture. 
Ftom marriage counsellots to the vendors of slimming aids, all those 
who now make a ptofession of supplying the means of bridging the gap 
between 'is* and 'ought* in the realm of rhe body and irs uses would be 
nothing without the unconscious collusion of all those who contribute 
10 producing an inexhaustible market fot the products they offer, who by 
imposing new uses of the body and a new bodily hexii — the hexii which 
' c flCTv ' bourgeoisie of the sauna barh. the gymnasium and the ski slope 
discovered for itself— produce the cottesponding needs, expectations 
dissatisfactions. Doctotsand diet experrs armed wirh the authoti'ty of 
■ C€j who impose their definition of normality wirh height- weighr 
s, balanced diets or models of sexual adequacy; couturiers who con- 
* sanction of good taste on the unattainable measurements of fash- 
K r 0cle ls; advertisers for whom the new obligatory uses of the body 
*eiehH< ^ C0 ^ C for count ' css wa mmgs and reminders ('Watch your 

th Clr Someone isn't using , , .'); journalists who exhibit and glorify 
^ccutt* 11 ''k" 5r ^ e in w o m en*s weeklies and magazines fot well-heeled 
Ca Usc w* S *^ COm bine, in the competition between them, to advance a 

of ^^ g " tnc y can setve so well only because rhey are not always aware 

^nd k f oreven observing rhemselves in the process, 
'fcearij Q / Cmcr gence of this new petite bourgeoisie, which employs new 
f hc c f. "Manipulation ro petform its role as an intermediary between 
5 and which by its vety exisrence brings about a transformation 

of the position and dispositions of rhe old petite bourgeoisie, can j t 
understood only in rerms of changes in the mode of dominarior^ '(\ 
substituting seducrion for repression, public relations for policing *\ 
using for authority, the velvet glove for rhe iron fist, pursues r jJ V 
bolic integration of rhe dominated classes by imposing needs nu nc ]% 
inculcaring norms. %n 

CHANCER in the educational SYSTEM Clearly it would be na : 
see a merely m&hamcal process of inflation and devaluation at work "n! 6 
massive increase in the school population has caused a wholeset c f 
formations, both inside and ourside the educational system, modify' *" 
its organizations and operation parrly through morphological rr , n , 8 
marions at all its levels but also through defensive manoeuvres by j ts r ' 
dirional users, such as the multiplication of subtly ranked paths rhrou 
it and skilfully disguised 'dumping grounds' which help to blur perceL 
tion of its hierarchies. For the sake of clarity, one may contrast two stat 
of the secondary school system In the older srate, rhe organization Q ( ,l 
institution, rhe pathways it offered, rhe courses ir raughr and the qualift- 
cations it awarded were ail based on shaip divisions, clear<ut boundariet 
rhe primary/secondary division produced systematic differences in all & 
mensions of rhe culture taught, rhe teaching methods used and the 
careers promised. {It is significant that the division has been maintained 
or even strengthened ar the poinrs where access to the dominanr class is 
now decided— thar is, at the point of streaming for the baccalaurcat, and 
in higher education, with the division between the grandes ecolcs and 
the rest.) In the present stare of the system, the exclusion of the great 
mass of working-class and middle-class children rakes place nor at the end 
of primary schooling but sreadily and impalpably, all through the eaity 
years of secondary schooling, rhrough hidden forms of elimination such 
as repeated years (equivalent to a deferred elimination); relegarion into 
second-class courses, entailing a stigma rhar tends to induce prolcptic rcf 
ognition of scholastic and social destiny; and finally, the awarding ofdf 
valued certificates. (It is remarkable that jusr when rhe division into t*° 
srreams— strictly speaking, there were always three* wirh 'higher prima*? 
education and the whole ser of internal training courses and compel' 
rions offered by all the major government departments — was tending w 
disappear and to be reconsritured at another level. Christian Baudelor arid 
Roger llsrahler discovered this dichotomy, which no one would ha* 
rhought of denying since it was the clearesr manifestation of the scho'* 5 
tic mechanisms of reproduction./" 

Whereas ihe old system with its srrongjy marked boundaries led to N7 
internalizing of scholastic divisions clearly corresponding to social <* ,v 
sions, the new system with its fuzzy classifications and blurred cdg c5 ' . 
courages and entertains (ar least among the new 'intermediaries' ' n $**■ * 
space) aspirations that are themselves blurred and fuzzy. Aspir anon ' cV j 
are now adjusted to scholastic hurdles and standards in a less strict * 

harsh manner than under the old system, which was character- 
ise i ^f rem orse ' css r 'g°ur of the national competitive examination. 
i,cA ^ ' f hat m e new system fobs oft a good number of its users with 
] ( is ^ unifications, playing on the faulty perceptions that are en- 
*-* va ' l bV tri ^ anarchic profusion of courses and diplomas which are 
^utfp compare and yet subtly ranked in prestige. However, it does 
<jitf' : t hem into such abrupt disinvestment as the old system: the 
i-° c f hierarchies and boundaries between the elected and the re* 

****! Mber**^ rrue anc ^ fa,se qualifications, plays a part in 'cooling out* 
^ aim acquiescence in being cooled out. The new system favours 
J"' lopmenr of a less realistic, less resigned relationship to the future 
i ■ old sensC °f p ro p cr limits, which was the basis of an acute sense 
r ^ a [\ rrC hy, The aUodvxia which the new system encourages in innu- 
hie ways ' s f ^ e rtason w ^ y "-'legated agents collaborate in their own 
^k-cation hv overestimating the studies on which they embark, over- 
^1 mS rne ' r qualifications, and banking on possible furures which do 
real'y exist for them; bur u is also the reason why they do not truly 
cccpf fhe objective reality of their position and qualifications And the 
reason for the attractiveness of the new or renewable positions lies in the 
ha thai, being vague and ill-defined, uncertainly located in social space, 
often offering (like the occupations of 'artist' or 'intellectual' in the past) 
none of the material or symbolic crireria — promotion, benefits, incre- 
ments. — whereby social time, and also social hierarchies, are experienced 
and measured, they leave aspirations considerable room for manoeuvre. 
They thus make it possible to avoid the sudden, final disinvestment 
imposed by occupations that arc clearly delimired and defined from re- 
cruitment to retirement. The indeterminate future which they offer, a 
privilege hitherto reserved for artisrs and intellectuals, makes it possible 
to treat rhe present as a sort of endlessly renewed provisional status and 
•o regard one's 'station 5 as an accidental detour, like the painter who 
*orks m advertising bur continues to consider himself a 'true' artisr and 
"* Sjsts that this merccnaiy rrade is only a temporary expedient thar will 
abandoned as soon as he has put hy enough money to be mdepen 
*•** These ambiguous occupations exempt their practitioners from 
be ^ork of disinvestment and reinvestment that is implied, for example, 
. wltcn ing from a Vocation' as a philosopher to a Vocation' as a philos- 
leas tea r * or ^ rom arr ' s * t° publicity designer or arr teacher — or at 
'hat W f hem to defer their transfer indefinitely, It is not surprising 
( e -j ch People should be drawn to schemes of 'continuing education' 
unit U l ° r [ P ermanmi ?)> a perpetual studenrhood which offers an open, 
torn C rure a nd contrasts diametrically with the system of national 
pOsJSU ?,0f>S designed to demonstrate, once and for all, and as early as 

4 5 1 wnat ,s done cannot be undone. 11 

brace k U ls understandable thar, like artists, they should so readily em* 
s ho^ t c ac sthetjc and ethical modes and models of yourh: it is a way of 
8 to oneself and others rhar one is not finite, finished, defined In 

place of abrupt, all-or nothing breaks, between study and work, be. 
work and retirement, there is an impalpable, infinitesimal slippage , ***! 
sider all the Temporary or semipermanent occupations, often t a j tc °** 
students approaching the end of their course, which cluster arouru p 
established positions in scientific research or higher education o c 
another level, consider the phased retirement now offered by the h! *' 
'advanced' firms). Everyrhing takes place as if the new logic of m e J} 
carional system and economic system encouraged people to defer f 
long as possible the moment of ultimate crystallization roward which ? 
rhe infinitesimal changes point, in other words, the final balancc-sKm*. 
which sometimes rakes the form of a 'personal crisis* 

It goes withour saying rhar the adjustment between objective chanc 
and subjective aspirations that is rhereby established is both more subtU 
and more subtly extorted, but also more risky and unstable. Maintaining 
vagueness in the images of the presenr and future of one's position i$ 
way of accepting limits, but it is also a way to avoid acknowledging 
them, or ro put it another way, a way of refusing them. But it is a refusal 
in bad faith, the product of an ambiguous cult of revolution which 
springs from resentment at the disappointment of unrealistic expecta- 
tions. Whereas rhe old system tended to produce clearly demarcated so- 
cial i den rines which left Jit tie room for social fantasy but were 
comforrable and reassuring even in the unconditional renunciation 
which they demanded, the new system of structural instability in the rep- 
resentation of social identity and its legitimate aspirations tends to shift 
agents from the terrain of social crisis and critique to the rerrain of per- 
sonal critique and crisis. 


can be seen how naive it is to claim to settle the question of 'socii! 
change* by locating 'newness* or 'innovation 1 in a particular site in soci>' 
space. For some, this site is at the top; for others, at the bottom; and it H 
always elsewhere, in all the 'new', 'marginal', 'excluded' or 'dropped-our 
groups, for all those sociologists whose chief concern is to bring *n cW ' 
ness' into the discussion at all costs. But to characterize a class as 'constf' 
vative" or 'mnovaring' (without even specifying in what jespect it i* * 
by tacit recourse to an ethical standard which is necessarily situated 
cially, produces a discourse which states little more than rhe site if corn 
from, because it sweeps aside what is essential, namely, rhe field ° [Jl 
gles, the system of objective relations within which positions and V~* 
rures are defined relational^ and which governs even those SrrU ^Lc 
aimed at transforming it. Only by reference to the space m the P 
which defines them and which they seek to maintain or redefine. can ^ 
understand the strategies, individual or collective, spontaneous or *^ 
nized, which are aimed at conserving, transforming or transforming - 
to conserve. 

version strategics are nothing other than an aspect of the perma- 

&& nons aR d factions whereby each group strives to maintain or 

pd* j s position rn the social structure, or, more precisely — at a stage 

c^ n ^ cv olution of class societies in which one can conserve only by 

in r . « to change so as to conserve, Frequency the actions whereby 

^ l lass ( or c ' ass ^ ract ' on ) works to win new advantages, i.e., to gain 

dvantag c ° vcr c ^ c otner classes and so, objectively, to reshape the 

lfl % (t of objective relations between the classes (the relations revealed 

stfU sta iistical distributions of properties), are compensated for (and so 

relied out ordinally) by the reactions of the other classes, directed to 

C rd the same objective. Jn this particular (though very common) case, 

outcome of these opposing actions, which cancel each other out by 
r very countermovements which they generate, is an overall displace- 
ment of the structure of the distribution, between the classes or class 
fractions, of the assets at stake in the competition (as has happened in 
die case of the chances of university entrance — see table 1 5 and figure 7). 

'fable 15 shows the relationship between morphological change in the dif- 
ferent classes and class fractions and the extent to which the members of 
these classes and class fractions make use of the educational system. The 
volume of the groups whose social reproduction was based, at the begin- 
ning of the period, on economic inheritance tends to decline or remain sra- 
nonary, while, over the same period, their children — who will, to a large 
extent, loin rhe wage-earning categories at the same level of the social hier- 
archy — make increasing use of the educational system. Those class fractions 
which are expanding, which are mainly rich in cultural capital and which 
used the educational system as their main means of reproduction (junior 
and senior executives, clerical workeis) rend to increase their children's 
schooling m much rhe same proportion as the self -employed categories oc- 
cupying an equivalent position in the class structure. The reversal of the rel- 
ative positions of the commercial employers and clerical workers, and also 

the farm workers and industrial manual workers* is explained both by 
• t intensified schooling that is forced on the numerically declining catego- 
>~<s (commercial employers, farm workers) and by the rise in rhe overall 

"tical cha r acreristics of these categories (seen, for example, in their edu- 
rotraA ^^c^' " 5 )- resulting from change in their internal structure— 
it r s k*5 dispersion— -and, more precisely, from the fact that their lower 

■»h aVc been particularly hard hit and have disappeared or reconverted, 
the * 5" 00 ' ,n g rates shown in the graph are probably overestimates, since 
ciall laC|SCICs only take account of young people living at home, more espe- 
ing of , doubr, at lower levels of the social hierarchy. The slight narrow- 
to a s c fari ge which is apparent in rhe most recent period is due parrty 
'he sr at Uratlon ^^ in triC highest categories and partly to the face rhar 
l **sn 2 r j CS 'gnore the distribution of adolescents from different classes be- 
*nd lh 7 > courses that are themselves srrongly ranked. Between 196$ 

40) ■ f "t proportion of industrial workers' children (who made up to 
rcc nt of the i7-year old age groups in 1977) in the fifth grade of 











n a 

•o c 





""* & e 
H ~7 a 


















Of I 




r- oo t 


r>- ft\ sq 

-i ■* -» 
^ ^ r- 



t*\ ia — 

»« (h ns> 

N r» N 

9 9 9 

tf% K -- 
^ <■«■ I*- 


O *N »fl 

ad i^ >d 

9 °J 9 

O V r* 

r^ o "* c* N "v *■* 
•n cd *\ *ri >d *^ fld 

l*« n© ■* 

o *"i — 

«♦ irv \© 
>£> Ov oi 


9 ^ ^1 

-* rsi ni 

|H N l«> T 

— <3v *> <»> 

.- ,- "■$• rv 

00 O O 

d $~* ri 

iri 1^. C7 1 *"; 

OE W <>. OS 

r- <*•* ao 
■*n v\ r«i 

»> «fl N 

O ^ »«\ 00 

Os Q q r^ 

00 fN -O NO 


C tf 

g« i g i 

g 1 1 e * I 3 


§M 1 

K X K 

5 v C f 

E *a '= - -a ° u J 
I i J £ I -9 2 S 

i S £ O^Ji 




~u & 


DJsphcc men t of schooling rates of 16- to I&year-olds, 1954-1975 



— a senior executives, 
W professions 

* junior executives 

65 t 
^ employers 

/ m clerical and 
/X' 62 commercial employees 

w farmers 

jt manual workers 

* farm workers 

(The dotted lines 
indicate the schooling 
rates ofl 8-year-olds 
between 19(58 and 




Bou,l ^ l «i E f \S** JUi " "H '**. W. WW INSEE. Dommw $<xiatei. 1973. p 105; P 
! 9 ^>).p 4. &,* j ^seron. Tig inhertion (Chicago and London, University of Chicago Piew, 
7 >- P. 221 ICU "^ Passcron - R*PnSM£tio* {London and Beverly Hills. Sage Publications. 

state secondary schooling rcmamed constant (25.7 percent and 23.9 &. 
respectively), whereas the proportion of senior executives 1 and profess Ctfl| 
children rose from i5.4 percent to 16.8 percent. Moreover, in 197? t ln j^h* 
grade, }7.6 petcent of the senior executives' and professionals' children 
in section C (scientific), compared to 20.6 percent of the farm worker? 1 *** 
children and 21 *> percent of the industrial workers* children. Converse! 
only 9-8 percent of the senior executives* and professionals' children We v 
a 'technical* sccrion. as agamst 246 percent of the farm workers' childr**, ^ 
and 28.7 percent of the industrial workers* children, Similar tendencies a 
found in higher education, where students of working-class origin are in 
creasingly relegated to the arts and science faculties or to short technical 
courses, whereas the upper-class students tend to be in the grandes ecolcs 
the medical faculties or, if academically less successful, in the minor bu$i. 
new schools. 

In the case of tlic social sciences, scientific discourse cannot ignore the 
conditions of its own reception. This depends at all times on the state of 
rhe prevailing social problematic which is itself ar least partly defined by 
the reactions to an earlier form of that discourse. Those who oversimplify 
the arguments of my earlier works, The Inheritors and Reproduction — which 
subsequent research has shown to err on the side of simplification — share 
with those who criticize them without understanding them a taste for sim- 
ple truths and an inability to think relarionally. Ideological stubbornness is 
not a sufficient explanation for naiveties such as thar of 'referring to a Vise 
in middle class recruitment' to universities between 1950 and I960 and con- 
cludmg that the bourgeois university had been transformed into one 'dom- 
inated by rhe middle classes*. J: One only has to look at the position of the 
faculties— especially those of arts and science — in the hierarchy of higher- 
education institutions by social origin of their students to know what to 
rhink of such a statistical analysis (highly praised by Alain Peyrefirtc, who 
regrets that it has nor had the success it deserves, thereby giving further 
proof of his great knowledge of university matters),' 1 These faculties, 
which are situated at the lowest point of a field naturally dominated by the 
grandes ecoks — and now even lower, to judge from the economic and so- 
cial value of their diplomas, than the least presrigious and most recent of 
ihe business schools thsit hsive proliferated in recent years— have all the 
characteristics of dumping grounds, nor least theit level of 'democratization 
(and feminization). It is as if the 'democratization' of secondary education 
were to be measured in a technical high school in an industrial suburb. 
Nor could anyone speak of a 'middlc-class-dominated 1 university unless t* 
had, consciously or unconsciously, confused the level of representation o 
the middle classes in the facuky-student population with the chances ot 
ulty entrance for the middle classes — in other words, confused change tf* 
the social composition of the faculties with change in the structure of P 1 ^ 
abilities of schooling, a structure which has been shifted upwards wi r "° 
real transformation, ^^__^** 

A similar process of nomothetic development seems to nke ° n 

henever the strengths and efforts of the groups competing for a ° ^t 
pe of asset or entitlement tend to balance one another out, as in * «r 
in which, after a series of bursts in which various runners forge ah ca 



the initial S a P s arc maintained; in ocher words, whenever the 

^(tb U P* r t ^ e inirially mosr disadvantaged groups ro come into pos- 

3l tef t1 P t | f ^ c assets previously possessed by groups immediately above 

5C ssic»n soc j a | hierarchy or immediately ahead of them in the race are 

the*" ' ^55 counterbalanced, at all levels, by the efforts of bctterplaced 

(fi ofC ° maintain the scarcity and distinctiveness of their assets. One 

gfoup 5 , f ^ c struggle which rhe sale of letters of nobility provoked 

f ^ rhe English aristocracy in the second half of the sixteenth cen- 

anttng fiCf j n o a self sustaining process of inflation and devaluation of 

rUf ' V ' rles The lowest titles, such as esquire or arms, were the first to be 

C ^ d followed by the rank of knight, which was devalued so fast that 

ldtrst holders had ro press for the creation of a new title, that of 

net But this new title, which rilled the gap between knight and peer 

# he realm, was seen as a threat by the holders of the higher rank, 

%.*«* value depended on maintaining a certain distance. 4 Thus the 
whose VAIUZ r _ , a . , 

eweomers conspire to ruin the existing holders by acquiring the titles 

which made [ hem rarc ' rne surest wa X ro devalues title of nobility is ro 
purchase it as a commoner. The existing holders, for their part, objec 
tively devalue the newcomers either by abandoning their titles to them in 
order 10 pursue rarer ones, or by introducing differences among the title* 
holders linked to seniority in accession to the title (such as the manner 
of posseting ir). k follows that all the groups involved in rhe race, what- 
ever rank they occupy, cannot conserve their position, their rariry, their 
rank except by running ro keep their distance from those immediately 
behind them, thus jeopardizing the difference which distinguishes the 
group immediately in front; or, to put ir another way, by aspiring to pos 
sea that w'hich the group just ahead already have, and which they them- 
selves will have, but later. 

The holders of the rarest titles can also prorect themselves from com- 
petition by serting up a numerus clausus. Such measures generally 
become necessary whenever the statistical mechanisms 'normally' pro- 

g the group are found ro be inadequate The laisser-faire which is 

^ a,n[a ined so long as it discreetly procecrs the interests of the privileged 

U P '5 replaced by a conscious protectionism, which calls on institu- 

ro do openly what seemingly neutral mechanisms did invisibly. To 
prarecr themselves against excessive numbers, the holders of rate rirles 
<ha l S mu5t defend a definition of the job which is nothing other 
t fj e c definition of those who occupy the position at a given state of 
3 rc ^ r,0n ship between titles and jobs. Declaring ihat the doctor, the 
Miai k ° r r ^ C P r °fessor of rnc furure must be what they are roday, ie , 
^ etc -^ tnemsc ^ v es are- they write into the definition of the post, for 
^nts f "^' tnc properties ir derives from its small number of occu- 
ll, clu<} 5 tne secondary properries associated with severe selection. 

a nd Qn * high social origin), that is, rhe limits placed on competition 
l n p j changes it would bring. 

- of stacistical boundaries, which leave groups surrounded by 

the 'hybrid' zone of which Plato speaks apropos of the boundary Q fL^ 
and non-being, and which challenge the discriminatory power of c~ ?8 
taxonomies (Young or old? Urban or rural? Rich or poor? 'Middle l 
or 'lower middle'?), thenumerus clausus, in the extreme form it nrce^ 
from discriminatory law, sets sharp, arithmetical limits. In place f ** 
eiples of selection, of inclusion and exclusion, based on a numbe ^ 
fairly closely interrelated and normally implicit criteria, it sets u p ^ ■ 
stitutionalized and therefore conscious and organized process of se^r- *** 
tion and discrimination, based on a single criterion (no women 0r 
Jews, or no blacks) which leaves no room for reclassification. In t?° 
the most select groups prefer ro avoid the brutality of discriminat 
measures and to combine the charms of the apparent absence of criteri 
which allows the members the illusion of election on grounds of »*» 
sonal uniqueness, with the certainties of selection, which ensures nu* 
mum group homogeneity. 

Smart clubs preserve their homogeneity by subjecting aspirant* ro ve™ 
strict procedures— an act of candidature, a recommendation, sometimes pre 
sentation (in the literal sense) by sponsors who have themselves been mem- 
bers for a cerrain number of years, election by the membership or by 2 
special committee, payment of sometimes veiy high initial subscriptions 
0,000 francs per person at the Ccrcle du Bois dc Boulogne in 1973, 9,500 
francs at the Saint-Cloud Golf Club in 1975), plus the annual subscription 
(2,050 francs at Saint Cloud) and so on. In fact, it would be pointless to 
seek to discover whether the formal rules, which aim above all to protect 
the group against outsiders (not so much other classes, which are excluded 
from the start, as other fractions of the same class, or even parvenu mem' 
bers of the same fraction) and which generally prove superfluous, are in- 
tended to disguise the arbitrariness of election, or whether, on the contrary, 
the conspicuous arbitrariness which makes election a matter of indefinable 
flair is intended to disguise the official rules, l We rake you if we like the 
look of you {Cat a la tite du client )* said one club chairman; and another 
'There are clubs where you need two sponsors and they accept almost any- 
one; there are others with two sponsors where they're veiy choosy.' Beside*, 
everything depends on the quality of the sponsors: 'Normally you have to 
wait two or three years; with good sponsors, you don't wait at all' (a men* 
ber of the management committee, Ccrcle du Bois dc Boulogne). Siroil*")"* 
although membership is not officially hereditary, a young woman who ap 
plies to join the Cerele du Bois de Boulogne will be asked if her father of 
elder brother is a member. All the evidence suggests that although a nun 1 
ber of them are officially organized around some rare, selecrive activity, 
which is often a mere pretext (golf, polo, hunting, riding, pigeon-shoot 1 w 
sailing etc.), smart clubs (ks club <hia) are opposed to specialized club*, 
whose members are denned by possession of a common property ( fc> r c * ^ 
pie, a yacht in the case of the Cerclc dc la Voile de Paris), in That they 
account of the whole social person; and the more prestigious they are, 
the more concerned they are to achieve a total harmony of interests * n 

it r cxa^P' c » r ^ c J oc ^ c y Club, the Cerele du Bois dc Boulogne or 
v ^Iae5 ' ^ u Cerele), rhe more this is the case. 
\jc ^ the social reality of the criteria of selccrion can only come from 

^ aL, th? t is, from an objectificarion of what is refused in advance as 
di» fS ' 3 nd vulgar, the group is able to persuade itself that its own 
red uC !V jj based on no other principle than an indefinable sense of propria 
^^h ch on 'y mcm ^ rs bip cm procure. The miracle of mutual election 
<*Y perfection wuh groups of intellectuals, who are not so naive as to 
ach ,c c ^ c m j n imal object ificatjon required to form a club Because they 
c° nC k c j f trust in the quasi-mystical sense of participation which does in- 
p'^. j_f; ne the Participants, the excluded outsiders {who cannot even prove 
*^ istence of the exclusive group except involuntarily, through their de- 
*** " (pons of it)' cn< * U P £ '^'ng against windmills when they attempt to 
" a rout tnt ' nv ' 5 'b' c barriers which separate them from the ccct. intellec 
^Tfiroups, P ar ticularly rhe most prestigious ones, are extraordinarily im- 
mune <o object tfic a* ion- This is not only because one has to beiong in order 
to rave a practical mastery of the mechanisms of membership; it is also be* 

asc one cannot objectify the intellectual game without putting at stake 
one's own stake in the game — a risk which is at once derisory and absolute. 

The dialectic of downclassing and upclassing which underlies a whole 
set of social processes presupposes and entails that ail rhe groups con- 
cerned run in the same direction, toward the same objectives, the same 
properties, those which are designated by the leading group and which, 
by definition, are unavailable to the groups following, since, whatever 
these properties may be intrinsically, they are modified and qualified by 
their distinctive rarity and will no longer be what they are once they arc 
multiplied and made available to groups lower down. Thus, by an ap- 
parent paradox, the maintenance of order, chat is, of the whole set of 
I^P 5 * differences, 'differentials', ranks, precedences, priorities, exclusions, 
distinctions, ordinal properties, and thus of the relations of order which 
give a social formation its structure, is provided by an unceasing change 
substantial (i.e., non-relarional) properties. This implies that the social 
^ r Established at any given moment is also necessarily a temporal 
r , an order of successions', as Ijeibniz put it, each group having as its 
it , c g f0U p immediately below and for its future the group immedi- 

petm^ ^ *° nC SCCS thc attracr ' on of evolutionist models). The com- 
K groups a rc separated by differences which aie essentially located in 
' Y^' of ,, me . V 

tj 0n J)® *ccid cn t that credit is so important in this system, live imposi- 
erih ar , ^ mrTUc y which occurs through the competitive st ggle and is 
<j y the gentle violence of cultural missionaiy work tends to pro- 

^refy*^ 05 ' "' ' n thc Knsc °* a tiec ^ i which pre<xisrs the means of ade- 

l ^ mos Sa j "^' ^ nt * '" a soc ' a ' oraCr which acknowledges that even 

'origf^ 1 deprived have the right to every satisfaction, but only in rhe 

' cnc only alternatives are credit, which allows immediate enjoy- 

ment of the promised goods but implies acceptance of a future w l 
merely the continuation of the past, or the 'imitation'— mock J u '» 
cars* mock luxury holidays and so on. ^ 

But the dialectic of downclassing and updassing is predispose 
function also as an ideological mechanism, whose effects conscrv tQ 
discourse strives to intensify. Especially when rhcy compare their preJ** 
conditions with their past, the dominated groups are exposed to the 11 
sion that they have only to wait in order to receive advantages which " 
reality^ they will obtain only by struggle. By situating the difference K? 
twecn the classes in the order of successions, the competitive strueoL 
tablishes a difference which, like that which separates predecessor fr 
successor in a social order governed by well-defined rules of succession 
not only the most absolute and unbridgeable (since there is nothing 
do but wait, sometimes a whole lifetime, like the petit bourgeois who ar 
quire their own houses ar the moment of retirement, sometimes seven! 
generations, like the petit bourgeois who extend their own foreshortened 
trajectories through their children) but also the most unreal and evanes- 
cent (since a person knows that if he can wait, he will in any case get 
what he is promised by the ineluctable laws of evolution). In short, what 
the competitive struggle makes everlasting is not different conditions, 
but the difference between conditions. 

Collective and individual delay has social consequences which further com- 
plicate this process. Relatively late arrival nor only reduces rhe duration of 
enjoyment; it also implies a less familiar, less 'easy' relationship to the acrid- 
ity or asset in question, which may have Technical consequences — e.g., in 
rhe use of a car — or symbolic ones — in the case of cultural goods. It may 
also represent the disguised equivalent of pure and simple privation when 
rhe value of the asser or activity lies in its distinguishing power (which is 
clearly linked to exclusive or priority access) rather rhan in rhe intrinsic sat- 
isfactions it gives. The vendors of goods and services, who have an interest 
in these effects of allodoxia, exploit these lags, offeting, outof-season (e ; g- 
in the case of holidays), or when they are out of fashion (clothes, activi- 
ties), things which have their full value only at the 'right' rime, ^_^* 

Once this mechanism is understood, one perceives the futility ot 
abstract debates which arise from the opposition of permanent 
change, structure and history, reproduction and the 'production ° f 
ciety*. The real basts of such debates is the refusal ro acknowledge 
social contradictions and struggles ate not all, or always, in contraa' 
with the perpetuation of the established order; that, beyond rhe *** . ( 
escs of 'thinking in pairs', permanence can be ensured by change » n j 
structure perpetuated by movement; that the frustrated cX P cCta - m irf 
which are creared by the time-lag between the imposition of lcg lfl J 
needs (musts', as the markering men put it) and access to the m& 

rhe m . ^° nor nct^^tily threaten the survival of the system; 
^isfy 1 "^ uCtu taJ gap and the corresponding frustrations are the very 
tW : f rhc reproduction through displacement which perpetuates the 
&* Kt of positions while transforming the 'nature' of conditions. 
* tiUCt ko becomes clear that those who point to what might be called 
1* * ,. p to petries and speak of the 'embourgeoisement* of the working 
ci d those wn0 [r Y to refute them by pointing to ordinal properties, 
(&** a |jy unaware that the contradictory aspects of reality which rhey 
$(C ate in fact indissoluble dimensions of a single process. The rcpro- 
2t of the social structure can take place in and through a comperi- 
rrU e<»Je leading to a simple displacement of the structure of 
JT* [buttons, so long and only so long as the members of the dominated 
1 «es enter the struggle in extended order, that is, through acrions and 
rionJ which aie compounded only statistically, by the external effects 
*Wh the actions of some exert on the actions of others, in the absence 
of any interaction or transaction, and consequently in conditions of ob- 
jectivity, without collective or mdi vidua] control and generally against 
the agents' individual and collective interests. 

The limiting case of these processes of statistical action is panic or tout, in 
uhich each agent helps to produce what he fears by performing acrions in- 
spired by the feared effect (as in financial panics). In all these cases, rhe col- 
lective action, the mere statistical sum of uncoordinated individual actions, 
leads ro a collective result irreducible or hostile to the collective interests 
and even ro the particular interests pursued by the individual actions. This 
is seen clearly when the demoralization produced by a pessimistic picture of 
ci« future of a class contributes to the decline of that class; in a number of 
*'»ys, the members of a declining class contribute to the collective decline, 
!kc the craftsmen who push their children through school while complain- 
1 £ ; that the educational system discourages young people from entering rhe 

in "f?P* t4t ' ve struggle is the form of class struggle which the dom- 
*™ 'classes allow ro be imposed on them when they accept the stakes 
oy the dominant classes. It is an inrcgrarive struggle and, by vir- 
trir v! ,mr ' 3 ^ handicaps, a reproductive srruggle, since those who 
sr 3nc '* c hase, in which they are beaten before rhey start, as the con- 
sols £ a P s testifies, implicitly recognize the legitimacy of the 
paj t P Ursuc d by rhose whom they pursue, by the mere fact of raking 

W»Vin* ... 

^hich 5cstaDr, shed the logic of the processes of competition Cor rout) 

c ° U: ules emn eac ^ a S ent co react * n isolation to the effect of the 

^siica] rcaa *° ns of other agents, or, more precisely, ro the result of the 

^to . a ^ rc S a t'On of their isolated actions, and which reduce rhe 

e srare of a mass dominated by its own number, one can pose 

the cjuesrion, much debated at present among historians, ^ of the c 
rions (economic crisis, economic crisis following a period of e Xp ^ 
and so on) in which the dialectic of mutually self-reproducing obi ^ 
chances and subjective aspirations may break down Everything sui> ^ 
that an abrupt slump in objective chances relative to subjective St?** 
tions is likely to produce a break in the tacit acceptance which the J i 
iftared classes — now abruptly excluded from the race, objectively ^ 
subjectively — previously granted to the dominant goals, and so t J .^ 
possible a genuine inversion of the table of values. f 


ihe Habitus and t\)e 
Space of Life-Styles 

The mere &ct that rhe social space described here can be presented as a 
diagram indicates that it is an absttact representation, deliberately con- 
stmcred, like a map, to give a bird's-eye view, a point of view on the 
whole set of points from which ordinary agents (including the sociolo- 
gist and his reader, in their ordinary behaviour) see the social world. 
Bringing together in simultaneity, in the scope of a single glance — this is 
its heuristic value — positions which the agents can never apprehend in 
their torality and in their multiple relationships, social space is to the 
practical space of everyday life, with its distances which are kept or sig- 
nalled, and neighbours who may be more remote than strangers, what 
geometrical space is to rhe travelling space' {espate hodotogiqui) of ordi- 
mr Y experience, with irs gaps and discontinuities- 
ouc the most crucial thine to note is rhar rhe question of this space is 
within the space itself — that the agents have points of view on this 
t J. ctlVc space which depend on their position wirhin it and in which 
the t0 trans ^ orm or conserve it is often expressed- Thus many of 

b 0r W s w hich s ciology uses to designate the classes it consrructs are 
(>oi . * rom ordinary usage, where rhey serve to express the (generally 
c hi?ir V ' Cw r ^ at onc £ r0U P nas 0r " another. As if carried away by 

c he *ob- C&t g r e a ter objecriviry, sociologists almost always forget that 
%S b' CClS r ^ e ^ c ^ ass ^X produce not only objectively classifiable prac- 
fhe ms / a "° classifying operations that are no less objective and are 
leads Ky VC ^ classifiable. The division inro classes performed by sociology 
^c a n j c f comm ° n f oot of the classifiable practices which agents pro- 
o* the classificatoiv judgements they make of other agents' 

practices and their own. The habitus is both the generative prin c j 
objectively classifiable judgements and the system of classification r ^ 
cipium divisionh) of rhese practices. It is in the relationship betweeif* 7 * 
two capacities which define the habitus, the capacity ro produce c\ ^ 
able practices and works, and the capacity to differentiate and appJr 5 ^ 
these practices and products (taste), that the represented social w J* 
i,e., the space of iife-styJcs, is constituted. r K 

The relationship that is actually established between the p^: 
characteristics of economic and social condition (capital volume 
composition, in both synchronic and diachronic aspects) and the da- 
tive features associated with the corresponding position in the univ 
of life styles only becomes intelligible when rhc habitus is consructed 
the genetative formula which makes it possible to account both f 0r .l 
classifiable practices and products and for the judgements, themselw* 
classified, which make these practices and works into a system of disti nt 
tive signs. When one speaks of the aristocratic asceticism of teachers or 
the pretension of the petite bourgeoisie, one is not only describing these 
groups by one, or even the most important, of their properties, but also 
endeavouring to name the principle which generates all their properties 
and all their judgements of their* ot other people's, properties. The 
habitus is necessity internalued and converted into a disposition thar 
generates meaningful practices and meaning-giving perceptions; it is 3 
general, transposabJe disposition which carries out a systematic, universal 
application— beyond the limits of what has been directly learnt — of the 
necessity inherent in rhe learning conditions. That is why an agent's 
whole set of practices (or those of a whole set of agents produced by sim- 
ilar conditions) are both systematic, inasmuch as they are rhe product of 
the application of identical (or interchangeable) schemes, ind systemati- 
cally distinct from the practices constituting another life-style. 

Because different conditions of existence produce different habitue 
systems of generative schemes applicable, by simple transfer, to the mast 
varied areas of practice— rhe practices engendered by rhe different habi»>* 
appear as systematic configurations of properties expressing the differ- 
ences objectively inscribed in conditions of existence in the form °*^j 
terns of differential deviations which, when perceived by agents endo**" 
with the schemes of perception and appreciation necessary in Qfdtf- 
identify, interpret and evaluate their perrinenr features, function ** ! 
styles (see figure 8). 1 

The habitus is not only a structuring structure, which organizes p 
cices and the perception of practices, but also a structured structure- 
principle of division into logical classes which organizes the F* rcC P $ 
of rhe social world is itself the product of internalization of the di*J 
into social classes. Each class condition is defined, simulraneously. J ^ 
intrinsic properties and by the relarional properties which it derives j 
its position in the system of class conditions, which is also a sys tCtP 

,n<i" K>nl 

of existence, habitus and life-style. 

w of perception and appreciation 


aw ds i Kins of existence 2 

Habims 1 




system of 





and works 

system of 

scheme of 





system of 



system of 




a system 
of classified 
and classifying 
i.e., distinctive 
signs {'tastes') 

Life-Stf Je 2 



differences, differential positions, i.e., by everything which discing: , 
it ftom what it is not and especially from everything it is opposed to- 
cial identity is defined and asserted through difference. This means l^ 
inevitably inscribed within the dispositions of the habitus is the W k 
structure of the system of conditions, as it presents itself in theew^, 
ence of a life-condition occupying a particular position within that s t 
turc. The most fundamental oppositions in the structute (high/1 
rich/poor etc.) rend to establish themselves as the fundamental srnjrr 
ing principles of practices and rhe perception of practices. As a systern i 
practice-generaring schemes which expresses systematically the necess 
and freedom inherent in its class condirion and rhe difference constitu 
ing that position, the habitus apprehends differences between conditi 0n 
which it grasps in the form of differences between classified, classifyin 
pactices (products of other habitus), in accordance with principles r$ 
differentiation which, being themselves the product of these differences 
are objectively attuned to them and therefore tend to perceive them » 

The observer who divides a population into classes performs an operation 
which has its equivalent in social practice. If he is nor aware of this, he is 
likely to present a more or less modified form of a native classification as i 
scientific classification (a number of 'typologies' are precisely this). In addi- 
tion, he has no chance of bringing to the level of consciousness the true 
status of his classifying operations which, like native knowledge, presuppose 
connections and comparisons and which, even when they semi to belong to 
the realm of social physics, in fact produce and interpret signifying distinc- 
tions, in short, belong to the order of the symbolic, 

While it must be reasserted, against all forms of mechanism, that ordi- 
nary experience of rhe social world is a cognition* it is equally important 
to realize — conrrary to rhe illusion of the spontaneous generation 0l 
consciousness which so many theories of the 'awakening of class con- 
sciousness' (prise de amscim(e) amount ro — that primary cognition 
misrecognition, recognirion of an order which is also established in V® 
mind. Life-styles are thus the systematic products of habitus, which, P* 
ceived in their mutual relations through the schemes of the habitus, t 
come sign systems rhat are socially qualified (as 'distinguished', *vulg* 
etc.). The dialectic of conditions and habitus is the basis of an a ^ c " c ^ 
which transforms the distribution of capital, the balance-sheet of a P° 
relarion, into a system of perceived differences, distinctive properties* 
is, a distribution of symbolic capital legitimate capital, whose obfec 
truth is misrecognized. $ 

As structured products (opus op^atum) which a structuring struC Jp f 
(modus operandi) produces through retranslarions according to inC .Jpp 
eifve logic of the different fields, all the practices and products of * % 

The Habitus ana the spate &} Mjvjyw / nj 

objectively harmonized among rhemselves, wirhour any deliber 
iff * r of coherence, and objectively orchestrated, wirhour any con- 
ate P conC crtation ( with those of all members of rhe same class The 
&° l1 con( inuously generates practical meTaphots, rhat is to say, trans 
*] f which f he transfer of motor habits is only one example) or, more 
fc rs f . systematic transpositions required by the particular conditions 
? u c u the habitus is 'put into practice' (so that, for example, rhe as 
'" ethos which might be expected aiways to express itself in saving 
cC " in a C' vcn context, express itself in a particular way of using credit) . 
k nracti ccS °r"the same agent, and, more generally, the practices of all 
B f the same class, owe the stylistic affinity which makes each of 
i m a metaphor of any of the others to the fact that they are the prod- 
f transfers of the same schemes of action from one field to another 
A*i obvious paradigm would be the disposition called 'handwriting, a 
neu ] ar way of tracing letters which always produces the same writing, 
graphic forms which, in spite of all the differences of size, material or 
colour due to the surface (paper or blackboard) or the instrument (pen 
or chalk)— in spite, therefore, of the different use of muscles— present an 
immediately perceptible family resemblance, like all the features of style 
or mannet whereby a painter or writer can be iccognized as infallibly as a 
man by his walk- 

True pastiche, as Proust does it, for example, reproduces not the most srrik 
tng features of a style — like parody or caricature— -but the habitus, which 
Jacques Riviere calls 'the hearth of mental activity*, in which the original 
discourse is generated: 'We are amused to see each writer "resurrected" 
with his whole personality and, faced with an event he has never experi- 
enced, react jusc as he did ro those which life brought him. The hearth of 
"> s mental activity is rekindled, the lamp relit in his brain/* 

Systematicity is found in the opus opcratum because it is in the modus 
Operandi.* T - .... 

ind ", * r ' s found in all the properties — and property — wirh which 
. V| ^als and groups surround themselves, houses, furniture, paintings, 
vhi h C3rS ' s P* r ' tS( c, g af ertes, perfume, clothes, and in the practices in 
onlvu C mar iifest their distinction, sports, games, entertainments, 
ctari 3u5C lt ' s ' n f he synthetic unity of the habitus, the unifying, gen- 
app principle of all practices. Taste, the propensity and capacity to 
^' n £ l? k ( matCf ' a l'y or symbolically) a given class of classified, classi- 
se r of ^ Crs or practices, is the generative formula of Jife-style, a umrary 
ln 'he ,MI " ct ' vc preferences which express the same expressive intention 
,J1 €v I ^ c, " c logic of each of the symbolic subspaces, furniture, cloth- 
*fcV a f ^ ua S c ot body hexis Each dimension of life-style 'symbolizes 
^rnafc C , othcrS ' in Leibniz's phrase, and symbolizes them An old cabi- 
s ^orld view, the way he manages his budget, his time or his 


body, his use of language and choice of clothing are fully prcse,,, 
ethic of scrupulous, impeccable craftsmanship and in the acst^r i. ^ 
work for work's sake which leads him to measure the beauty f ^- lc of 
ucts by rhe care and patience that have gone into them. P rr >i 

The system of matching properties, which includes people— one 5**. 
of a 'well-matched couple', and friends like to say they have the 
tastes— is organized by taste, a system of classificatory schemes ^^ c 
may only very parcially become conscious although, as one r i sCS • "J 
social hierarchy, life style is increasingly a matter of what Weber call !? 
'stylization of life*. Taste is the basis of the mutual adjustment f a h /* 
featuies associated with a person, which the old aesthetic tecommcndJ 
for the sake of the mutual reinforcement they give one a norher & 
countless pieces of information a person consciously or unconscious!* 
imparts endlessly underline and confirm one another, offering the alc 
observer the same pleasure an artJover derives from the symmetries and 
correspondences produced by a harmonious distribution of redundancies 
The over-determination that results from these redundancies is felt the 
more strongly because the different features which have to be isolated fat 
observation or measurement strongly in terpenetrate in ordinary percep- 
tion; each item of information imparted in practice (e.g., a judgement of 
a painting) is contaminated — and, if it deviates from the probable fea- 
ture, corrected— by the effect of the whole set of features previously or 
simultaneously perceived. That is why a survey which tends ro isolate 
features — for example, by dissociating the things said from the way they 
are said — and detach them from the system of correlative features tends 
ro minimize the deviation, on each point, between the classes, especially 
that between the petit bourgeois and the bourgeois. In the ordinary situ 
ations of bourgeois life, banalities about art, literature or cinema are in- 
separable from the steady tone, the slow, casual diction, the distant or 
self assured smile, the measured gesture, rhe well-tailored suit and the 
bourgeois salon of the person who pronounces them. 

Thus, lacunae can turn into disdainful refusals and confusion into absent- 
mindedness. Bourgeois respondents particularly distinguish themselves vj 
their ability to control the survey situation (and my analysis of survey J* 
should take this into account)- Control over the soeia I situation in wn,c . 
culture opetates is given to rhem by the very unequally distributed ca P^[J, 
to adopt the relation to language which is called for in ail situations °' r 
lire conversation (eg., chatter about cinema or travel), and which P^yjj 
poses an art of skimming, sliding and masking, making abundant use °. 
the hinges, fillers and qualifiers identified by linguists as characterise *> 
bourgeois language. 

Taste is rhe practical operator of the transmutation of things tn [ ° " 
tinct and distinctive signs, of continuous distributions into disco* 1 

slt fons; if raises the differences inscribed in the physical order of 
ifi ¥* the symbolic order of significant distinctions. Ir transforms or> 
bo^i classified practices, in which a class condition signifies itself 
l^ r ' h rasre). info classifying practices, thar is, into a symbolic expres- 
^hr° u » , position, by perceiving them in their mutual relations and ir ; 
*' ofl ° f social classincatory schemes. Tasre is thus the source of the sys- 
fCr ' tlS f distinctive features which cannot fail ro be perceived as a system- 
ic* 1 n ressiO n °f a particular class of conditions of existence, i.e., as a 
*° C rjve life-style, by anyone who possesses practical knowledge of the 
d' stl ^,p S between distinctive signs and positions in the distribu- 
^ _4>ecwcen the universe of objective properties, which is brought ro 
J! bv scientific construction, and rhe no less objective universe of life 
1« which exists as such for and through ordina y experience. 
This classifkatory system, which is the product of the internalization 
r the sttuctuce of social space, in the form in which it impinges thtough 
r k e experience °^ a particular position in that space, is, within the limits 
r cCo nomic possibilities and impossibilities (which tt tends to reproduce 
in its own logic), the generator of praences adjusted ro the regularises 
mherenr in a condition. It continuously Transforms necessities into strate- 
gies, constraints into preferences, and, without any mechanical determi- 
nation, it generates the set of 'choices* constituting life-styles, which 
denve their meaning, i.e., their value, from their position in a system of 
oppositions and correlations , ft is a virtue made of necessity which con- 
tinuously transforms necessity into virrue by inducing 'choices' which 
correspond to rhe condition of which it is the product. As can be seen 
vhenever a change in social position puts the habitus into new condi- 
tions, so that its specific efficacy can be isolated, it is taste — the taste of 
f^cessity or the taste of luxury — and not high or low income which 
commands the practices objectively adjusted to these resources. Through 
r aste, an agent has what he likes because he likes what he has, that is, the 
Properties actually given to him in the distributions and legitimately as- 
Sl « n cd ro him in the classifications.' 

'** Homology between the Spaces 

ti v "f m m ' nt ^ a ^ rna f precedes, in parti culat the fact that the genera- 
dissi i' CT1nes ot * Enc habitus are applied, by simple transfer, to the most 
p rac r area s of practice, one can immediately understand that the 
3l Cas r 0r S 00e fc associated wirh the different classes in the different 
tion . Practice are organized in accordance with structures of opposi- 
gou s K arc homologous to one another because they arc all homolo- 
^'rho sfru cture of objective oppositions between class conditions. 
°f th e r P rcsu ming to demonstrate here in a few pages what the whole 
fiil t c °f this work will endeavour to establish — but lest the reader 
me wood for the trees of detailed analysis — I shall me ely indi- 

1 76 I The Economy of Practices 

cate, very schematically, how the two major organizing principles of the 
social space govern the structure and modification of the space of cultural 
consumption, and, more generally, the whole universe of life-styles. 

In cultural consumption, the main opposition, by overall capital value, 
is between the practices designated by their rarity as distinguished, those 
of the fractions richest in both economic and cultural capital, and the 
practices socially identified as vulgar because they are both easy and com- 
mon, those of the fractions poorest in both these respects. In the inter- 
mediate position are the practices which are perceived as pretentious, 
because of the manifest discrepancy between ambition and possibilities. 
In opposition to the dominated condition, characterized, from the point 
of view of the dominant, by the combination of forced poverty and un- 
justified laxity, the dominant aesthetic — of which the work of art and the 
aesthetic disposition are the most complete embodiments— proposes the 
combination of ease and asceticism, i.e., self-imposed austerity, restraint, 
reserve, which are affirmed in that absolute manifestation of excellence, 
relaxation in tension. 

This fundamental opposition is specified according to capital composi- 
tion. Through the mediation of the means of appropriation available to 
them, exclusively or principally cultural on the one hand, mainly eco- 
nomic on the other, and the different forms of relation to works of art 
which result from them, the different fractions of the dominant class are 
oriented towards cultural practices so different in their style and object 
and sometimes so antagonistic (those of 'artists' and 'bourgeois') that it 
is easy to forget that they are variants of the same fundamental relation- 
ship to necessity and to those who remain subject to it, and that each 
pursues the exclusive appropriation of legitimate cultural goods and the 
associated symbolic profits. Whereas the dominant fractions of the domi- 
nant class (the 'bourgeoisie') demand of art a high degree of denial of 
the social world and incline towards a hedonistic aesthetic of ease and fa- 
cility, symbolized by boulevard theatre or Impressionist painting, the 
dominated fractions (the 'intellectuals' and 'artists') have affinities with 
the ascetic aspect of aesthetics and are inclined to support all artistic revo- 
lutions conducted in the name of purity and purification, refusal of os- 
tentation and the bourgeois taste for ornament; and the dispositions 
cowards the social world which they owe to their status as poor relations 
incline them to welcome a pessimistic representation of the social world. 
While it is clear that art offers it the greatest scope, there is no area of 
practice in which the intention of purifying, refining and sublimating 
facile impulses and primary needs cannot assert itself, or in which the 
stylization of life, i.e., the primacy of form over function, which leads to 
the denial of function, does not produce the same effects. In language, it 
gives the opposition between popular outspokenness and the highly cen- 
sored language of the bourgeois, between the expressionist pursuit of the 
picturesque or the rhetorical effect and the choice of restraint and false 

The Habitus and the Space of Life-Styles / 111 

simplicity (litotes). The same economy of means is found in body lan- 
guage: here too, agitation and haste, grimaces and gesticulation are op- 
posed to slowness — 'the slow gestures, the slow glance' of nobility, 
according to Nietzsche — to the restraint and impassivity which signify 
elevation. Even the field of primary tastes is organized according to the 
fundamental opposition, with the antithesis between quantity and qual- 
ity, belly and palate, matter and manners, substance and form. 

form and substance The fact that in the realm of food the main op- 
position broadly corresponds to differences in income has masked the sec- 
ondary opposition which exists, both within the middle classes and 
within the dominant class, between the fractions richer in cultural capital 
and less rich in economic capital and those whose assets are structured in 
the opposite way. Observers tend to see a simple effect of income in the 
fact that, as one rises in the social hierarchy, the proportion of income 
spent on food diminishes, or that, within the food budget, the propor- 
tion spent on heavy, fatty, fattening foods, which are also cheap — pasta, 
potatoes, beans, bacon, pork — declines (C.S. XXXIII), as does that spent 
on wine, whereas an increasing proportion is spent on leaner, lighter 
(more digestible), non-fattening foods (beef, veal, mutton, lamb, and 
especially fresh fruit and vegetables). Because the real principle of prefer- 
ences is taste, a virtue made of necessity, the theory which makes con- 
sumption a simple function of income has all the appearances to support 
it, since income plays an important part in determining distance from ne- 
cessity. However, it cannot account for cases in which the same income is 
associated with totally different consumption patterns. Thus, foremen re- 
main attached to 'popular' taste although they earn more than clerical 
and commercial employees, whose taste differs radically from that of 
manual workers and is closer to that of teachers. 

For a real explanation of the variations which J. F. Engel's law merely 
records, one has to take account of all the characteristics of social condi- 
tion which are (statistically) associated from earliest childhood with pos- 
session of high or low income and which tend to shape tastes adjusted to 
these conditions. The true basis of the differences found in the area of 
consumption, and far beyond it, is the opposition between the tastes of 
luxury (or freedom) and the tastes of necessity. The former are the tastes 
of individuals who are the product of material conditions of existence 
defined by distance from necessity, by the freedoms or facilities stemming 
from possession of capital; the latter express, precisely in their adjust- 
ment, the necessities of which they are the product. Thus it is possible to 
deduce popular tastes for the foods that are simultaneously most 'filling' 
and most economical from the necessity of reproducing labour power 
at the lowest cost which is forced on the proletariat as its very definition. 
The idea of taste, typically bourgeois, since it presupposes absolute free- 
dom of choice, is so closely associated with the idea of freedom that 

1 78 / The Economy of Practices 

many people find it hard to grasp the paradoxes of the taste of necessity. 
Some simply sweep it aside, making practice a direct product of eco- 
nomic necessity (workers eat beans because they cannot afford anything 
else), failing to realize that necessity can only be fulfilled, most of the 
time, because the agents are inclined to fulfil it, because they have a taste 
for what they are anyway condemned to. Others turn it into a taste of 
freedom, forgetting the conditionings of which it is the product, and so 
reduce it to pathological or morbid preference for (basic) essentials, a 
sort of congenital coarseness, the pretext for a class racism which associ- 
ates the populace with everything heavy, thick and fat. Taste is amor 
fati, the choice of destiny, but a forced choice, produced by conditions of 
existence which rule out all alternatives as mere daydreams and leave no 
choice but the taste for the necessary. 

One only has to describe the tastes of necessity as if they were tastes of lux- 
ury (which inevitably happens whenever one ignores the modality of prac- 
tices) " to produce false coincidences between the two extreme positions in 
social space: fertility or celibacy (or which amounts to the same thing, late 
marriage) is an elective luxury in one case, an effect of privation in the 
other. In this respect, Nicole Tabard's analysis of women's attitudes to 
'working wives' is exemplary: for working-class women, 'employment is a 
constraint which weakens as the husband's income rises', for the women of 
the privileged classes, work is a choice, as is shown by the fact that 'the rate 
of female employment does not decline as status rises.' 13 This example 
should be borne in mind when reading statistics in which the nominal 
identity imposed by uniform questioning conceals totally different realities, 
as often happens when one moves from one extreme of social space to the 
other. If in one case women who work say they are in favour of women 
working, whereas in the other they may work while saying they are against 
it, this is because the work to which working-class women are tacitly refer- 
ring is the only sort they can expect, i.e., unpleasant, poorly paid work, 
which has nothing in common with what 'work' implies for bourgeois 
women. To give an idea of the ideological effects which the essentialist and 
anti-genetic dominant vision produces when, consciously or unconsciously, 
it naturalizes the taste of necessity (Kant's 'barbarous taste'), converting it 
into a natural inclination simply by dissociating it from its economic and 
social raisons d'etre, one only has ro recall a social psychology experiment 
which showed that the same act, that of giving blood, is seen as voluntary 
or forced depending on whether it is performed by members of the privi- 
leged classes or the working classes. 

The taste of necessity can only be the basis of a life-style 'in-itself, 
which is defined as such only negatively, by an absence, by the relation- 
ship of privation between itself and the other life-styles. For some, there 
are elective emblems, for others stigmata which they bear in their very 
bodies. 'As the chosen people bore in their features the sign that they 
were the property of Jehovah, so the division of labour brands the manu- 

The Habitus and the Space of Life- Styles / 179 

facturing worker as the property of capital. - 1 The brand which Marx 
speaks of is nothing other than life-style, through which the most de- 
prived immediately betray themselves, even in their use of spare time; in 
so doing they inevitably serve as a foil to every distinction and contrib- 
ute, purely negatively, to the dialectic of pretension and distinction 
which fuels the incessant changing of taste. Not content with lacking 
virtually all the knowledge or manners which are valued in the markets 
of academic examination or polite conversation nor with only possessing 
skills which have no value there, they are the people 'who don't know 
how to live', who sacrifice most to material foods, and to the heaviest, 
grossest and most fattening of them, bread, potatoes, fats, and the most 
vulgar, such as wine; who spend least on clothing and cosmetics, appear- 
ance and beauty; those who 'don't know how to relax', 'who always have 
to be doing something', who set off in their Renault 5 or Simca 1000 to 
join the great traffic jams of the holiday exodus, who picnic beside major 
roads, cram their tents into overcrowded campsites, fling themselves into 
the prefabricated leisure activities designed for them by the engineers of 
cultural mass production; those who by all these uninspired 'choices' 
confirm class racism, if it needed to be confirmed, in its conviction that 
they only get what they deserve. 

The art of eating and drinking remains one of the few areas in which 
the working classes explicitly challenge the legitimate art of living. In 
the face of the new ethic of sobriety for the sake of slimness, which is 
most recognized at the highest levels of the social hierarchy, peasants and 
especially industrial workers maintain an ethic of convivial indulgence. A 
bon vivant is not just someone who enjoys eating and drinking; he is 
someone capable of entering into the generous and familiar — that is, 
both simple and free — relationship that is encouraged and symbolized by 
eating and drinking together, in a conviviality which sweeps away re- 
straints and reticence. 

Sixty-four percent of senior executives, professionals and industrialists and 
60 percent of junior executives, clerical and commercial employees consider 
that 'the French eat too much'. Farm workers (who are by far the most in- 
clined to think the quantity 'about right' — 54 percent as against 32 percent 
in the upper classes) and industrial workers are the categories who least 
often accept the new cultural norm (40 percent and 46 percent), which is 
recognized more by women than men and more by young people than old. 
As regards drink, only farm workers stand out clearly against the dominant 
view (32 percent of them consider that 'French people drink about the 
right amount'), though industrial workers also accept it less frequently 
than the other categories. Sixty-three percent of the industrial workers (and 
50 percent of the farm workers, as against 48 percent of the executives, pro- 
fessionals and industrialists) say they have a favourable opinion of someone 
who enjoys eating and drinking. Another index of their willingness to 
stand up in this area for heterodox practices which in cultural matters thcv 

180 / The Economy of Practices 

would try to disguise is that they say that, in a restaurant, they would 
choose a substantial dish rather than a light grill (favoured by the senior 
executives) or that they would have both cheese and a dessert. This is un- 
derstandable when it is remembered that, by its very rarity, a visit to a 
restaurant is, for most of them — 51 percent of the farm workers and 44 per- 
cent of the industrial workers hardly ever ear in a restaurant, as against only 
6 percent of the upper classes — something extraordinary, associated with the 
idea of abundance and the suspension of ordinary restrictions. Even as re- 
gards alcohol consumption, where the weight of legitimacy is no doubt 
greater, the working classes are the least inclined (35 percent of farm work- 
ers, 46 percent of industrial workers, 55 percent of the upper classes) to set 
the minimum age for drinking alcohol above fifteen (C.S. XXXIV). 

The boundary marking the break with the popular relation to food 
runs, without any doubt, between the manual workers and the clerical 
and commercial employees (see table 16). Clerical workers spend less on 
food than skilled manual workers, both in absolute terms (9,376 francs as 
against 10,347 francs) and in relative terms (34.2 percent as against 38.3 
percent); they consume less bread, pork, pork products (cbarcuterie), 
milk, cheese, rabbit, poultry, dried vegetables and fats, and, within a 
smaller food budget, spend as much on meat — beef, veal, mutton and 
lamb — and slightly more on fish, fresh fruit and aperitifs. These changes 
in the structure of spending on food are accompanied by increased 
spending on health and beauty care and clothing, and a slight increase in 
spending on cultural and leisure activities. When it is noted that the re- 
duced spending on food, especially on the most earthly, earthy, down- 
to-earth foods, is accompanied by a lower birth-rate, it is reasonable to 
suppose that it constitutes one aspect of an overall transformation of the 
relationship to the world. The 'modest' taste which can defer its gratifica- 
tions is opposed to the spontaneous materialism of the working classes, 
who refuse to participate in the Benthamite calculation of pleasures and 
pains, benefits and costs (e.g., for health and beauty). In other words, 
these two relations to the 'fruits of the earth' are grounded in two dispo- 
sitions towards the future which are themselves related in circular cau- 
sality to two objective futures. Against the imaginary anthropology of 
economics, which has never shrunk from formulating universal laws of 
'temporal preference', it has to be pointed out that the propensity to sub- 
ordinate present desires to future desires depends on the extent to which 
this sacrifice is 'reasonable', that is, on the likelihood, in any case, of ob- 
taining future satisfactions superior to those sacrificed. 

Among the economic conditions of the propensity to sacrifice imme- 
diate satisfactions to expected satisfactions one must include the proba- 
bility of these future satisfactions which is inscribed in the present con- 
dition. There is still a sort of economic calculation in the unwillingness 
to subject existence to economic calculation. The hedonism which seizes 
day by day the rare satisfactions ('good times') of the immediate present 

The Habitus and the Space of Life-Styles / 18, 













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The Habitus and the Space of Life-Styles / 183 

is the only philosophy conceivable to those who 'have no future' and, in 
any case, little to expect from the future. 17 It becomes clearer why the 
practical materialism which is particularly manifested in the relation to 
food is one of the most fundamental components of the popular ethos 
and even the popular ethic. The being-in-the-present which is affirmed in 
the readiness to take advantage of the good times and take time as it 
comes is, in itself, an affirmation of solidarity with others (who are often 
the only present guarantee against the threats of the future), inasmuch as 
this temporal immanentism is a recognition of the limits which define 
the condition. This is why the sobriety of the petit bourgeois is felt as a 
break: in abstaining from having a good time and from having it with 
others, the would-be petit bourgeois betrays his ambition of escaping 
from the common present, when, that is, he does not construct his whole 
self-image around the opposition between his home and the cafe, absti- 
nence and intemperance, in other words, between individual salvation 
and collective solidarities. 

The cafe is not a place a man goes to for a drink but a place he goes to in 
order to drink in company, where he can establish relationships of familiar- 
ity based on the suspension of the censorships, conventions and proprie- 
ties that prevail among strangers. In contrast to the bourgeois or petit- 
bourgeois cafe or restaurant, where each table is a separate, appropriated ter- 
ritory (one asks permission to borrow a chair or the salt), the working-class 
cafe is a site of companionship (each new arrival gives a collective greeting, 
'Salut la compagnie!' etc.). Its focus is the counter, to be leaned on after 
shaking hands with the landlord — who is thus defined as the host (he often 
leads the conversation) — and sometimes shaking hands with the whole 
company; the tables, if there are any, are left to 'strangers', or women who 
have come in to get a drink for their child or make a phone call. In the 
cafe free rein is given to the typically popular art of the joke — the art of 
seeing everything as a joke (hence the reiterated 'Joking apart' or 'No joke 1 , 
which mark a return to serious matters or prelude a second-degree joke), 
but also the art of making or playing jokes, often at the expense of the 'fat 
man'. He is always good for a laugh, because, in the popular code, his fat- 
ness is more a picturesque peculiarity than a defect, and because the good 
nature he is presumed to have predisposes him to take it in good heart and 
see the funny side. The joke, in other words, is the art of making fun with- 
out raising anger, by means of ritual mockery or insults which are neutra- 
lized by their very excess and which, presupposing a great familiarity, both 
in the knowledge they use and the freedom with which they use it, are in 
fact tokens of attention or affection, ways of building up while seeming to 
run down, of accepting while seeming to condemn — although they may 
also be used to test out those who show signs of stand-offishness, l 

three styles of DISTINCTION The basic opposition between the 
tastes of luxury and the tastes of necessity is specified in as many opposi- 

184 / The Economy of Practices 

rions as there are different ways of asserting one's distinction vis-a-vis the 
working class and its primary needs, or — which amounts to the same 
thing — different powers whereby necessity can be kept at a distance. 
Thus, within the dominant class, one can, for the sake of simplicity, dis- 
tinguish three structures of the consumption distributed under three 
items: food, culture and presentation (clothing, beauty care, toiletries, 
domestic servants). These structures take strictly opposite forms — like 
the structures of their capital — among the teachers as against the indus- 
trial and commercial employers (see table 17). Whereas the latter have 
exceptionally high expenditure on food (37 percent of the budget), low 
cultural costs and medium spending on presentation and representation, 
the former, whose total spending is lower on average, have low expendi- 
ture on food (relatively less than manual workers), limited expenditure 
on presentation (though their expenditure on health is one of the high- 
est) and relatively high expenditure on culture (books, papers, entertain- 
ments, sport, toys, music, radio and record-player) . Opposed to both 
these groups are the members of the professions, who devote the same 
proportion of their budget to food as the teachers (24.4 percent), but out 
of much greater total expenditure (57,122 francs as against 40,884 
francs), and who spend much more on presentation and representation 
than all other fractions, especially if the costs of domestic service are in- 
cluded, whereas their cultural expenditure is lower than that of the teach- 
ers (or even the engineers and senior executives, who are situated 
between the teachers and the professionals, though nearer the latter, for 
almost all items). 

The system of differences becomes clearer when one looks more closely 
at the patterns of spending on food. In this respect the industrial and 
commercial employers differ markedly from the professionals, and a for- 
tiori from the teachers, by virtue of the importance they give to cereal- 
based products (especially cakes and pastries), wine, meat preserves (foie 

Table 11 Yearly spending by teachers, professionals and industrial and commercial em- 
ployers, 1972. 

Type of 


(higher and secondary) 

Francs % of total 


Industrial and 
commercial employers 



% of total 


% of total 

Food 2 


Culture c 

















Source: C.S. Ill (1972). 

a. Includes restaurant or canteen meals. 

b. Clothes, shoes, repairs and cleaning, toiletries, hairdressing, domestic servants. 

c. Books, newspapers and magazines, stationery, records, sport, toys, music, enter- 

The Habitus and the Space of Life-Styles / 185 

gras, etc.) and game, and their relatively low spending on meat, fresh 
fruit and vegetables. The teachers, whose food purchases are almost iden- 
tically structured to those of office workers, spend more than all other 
fractions on bread, milk products, sugar, fruit preserves and non-alco- 
holic drinks, less on wine and spirits and distinctly less than the profes- 
sions on expensive products such as meat — especially the most expensive 
meats, such as mutton and lamb — and fresh fruit and vegetables. The 
members of the professions are mainly distinguished by the high propor- 
tion of their spending which goes on expensive products, particularly 
meat (18.3 percent of their food budget), and especially the most expen- 
sive meat (veal, lamb, mutton), fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and shell- 
fish, cheese and aperitifs. 19 

Thus, when one moves from the manual workers to the industrial and 
commercial employers, through foremen, craftsmen and small shopkeep- 
ers, economic constraints tend to relax without any fundamental change 
in the pattern of spending (see figure 9). The opposition between the 
two extremes is here established between the poor and the rich (nouveau 
riche), between la bouffe and la grande bouffe; 20 the food consumed is in- 
creasingly rich (both in cost and in calories) and increasingly heavy 
(game, foie gras). By contrast, the taste of the professionals or senior ex- 
ecutives defines the popular taste, by negation, as the taste for the heavy, 
the fat and the coarse, by tending towards the light, the refined and the 
delicate (see table 18). The disappearance of economic constraints is ac- 
companied by a strengthening of the social censorships which forbid 
coarseness and fatness, in favour of slimness and distinction. The taste for 
rare, aristocratic foods points to a traditional cuisine, rich in expensive or 
rare products (fresh vegetables, meat). Finally, the teachers, richer in cul- 
tural capital than in economic capital, and therefore inclined to ascetic 
consumption in all areas, pursue originality at the lowest economic cost 
and go in for exoticism (Italian, Chinese cooking etc.) and culinary 
populism (peasant dishes). They are thus almost consciously opposed to 
the (new) rich with their rich food, the buyers and sellers ofgrosse bouffe, 
the 'fat cats', gross in body and mind, who have the economic means to 
flaunt, with an arrogance perceived as 'vulgar', a life-style which remains 
very close to that of the working classes as regards economic and cultural 

Eating habits, especially when represented solely by the produce con- 
sumed, cannot of course be considered independently of the whole life- 
style. The most obvious reason for this is that the taste for particular 
dishes (of which the statistical shopping-basket gives only the vaguest 
idea) is associated, through preparation and cooking, with a whole con- 
ception of the domestic economy and of the division of labour between 
the sexes. . A taste for elaborate casserole dishes (pot-au-feu, blanquette, 
daube), which demand a big investment of time and interest, is linked to 
a traditional conception of woman's role. Thus there is a particularly 

186 / The Economy of Practices 

Figure 9 The food space. 




raw grilled fruit 






STATUS 9+ ' 
food cons. - 
cult. cons. + 

fruit juice 










food cons. + 

cult. cons. - 








strong opposition in this respect between the working classes and the 
dominated fractions of the dominant class, in which the women, whose 
labour has a high market value (and who, perhaps as a result, have a 
higher sense of their own value) tend to devote their spare time rather to 
child care and the transmission of cultural capital, and to contest the tra- 
ditional division of domestic labourj)The aim of saving time and labour 
in preparation combines with the search for light, low-calorie products, 
and points towards grilled meat and fish, raw vegetables {'salades com- 
pose'es'), frozen foods, yogurt and other milk products, all of which are 
diametrically opposed to popular dishes, the most typical of which is 
pot-au-feu, made with cheap meat that is boiled (as opposed to grilled or 
roasted), a method of cooking that chiefly demands time. It is no acci- 
dent that this form of cooking symbolizes one state of female existence 

The Habitus and the Space of Life-Styles / 187 

and of the sexual division of labour (a woman entirely devoted to house- 
work is called 'pot-au-fcu'), just as the slippers put on before dinner sym- 
bolize the complementary male role. 

Small industrial and commercial employers, the incarnation of the 'grocer' 
traditionally execrated by artists, are the category who most often (60 per- 
cent) say they change into their carpet slippers every day before dinner, 
whereas the professions and the senior executives are most inclined to reject 
this petit-bourgeois symbol (35 percent say they never do it). The particu- 
larly high consumption of carpet slippers by working-class women (both 
urban and rural) no doubt reflects the relation to the body and to self- 
presentation entailed by confinement to the home and to domestic life. 
(The wives of craftsmen, shopkeepers and manual workers are those who 
most often say that their choice of clothes is mainly guided by a concern to 
please their husbands.) 

It is among manual workers that most time and interest is devoted to 
cooking; 69 percent of those questioned say they like doing elaborate cook- 
ing (la grande cuisine), as against 59 percent of the junior executives, 52 
percent of the small shopkeepers and 51 percent of the senior executives, 
professionals and industrialists (C.S. XXXIVa). (Another indirect index of 
these differences as regards the sexual division of labour is that whereas the 
teachers and senior executives seem to give priority to a washing machine 
and a dishwasher, for the professionals and industrial or commercial em- 
ployers priority seems to go rather to a TV stt and a car — C.S. III.) Finally, 
when invited to choose their two favourite dishes from a list of seven, the 
farm workers and manual workers, who, like all other categories, give the 
highest rank to roast leg of Iamb, are the most inclined (45 percent and 34 
percent, as against 28 percent of the clerical workers, 20 percent of the se- 
nior executives and 19 percent of the small employers) to choose pot-au-feu 
(the farm workers are almost the only ones who choose andouillette — pork 
tripe sausage — 14 percent of them, as against 4 percent of the manual work- 
ers, clerical workers and junior executives, 3 percent of the senior executives 
and percent of the small employers). Manual workers and small employ- 
ers also favour cocj au vin (50 percent and 48 percent), a dish typical of 
small restaurants aiming to be 'posh', and perhaps for this reason associated 
with the idea of 'eating out 1 (compared with 42 percent of the clerical 
workers, 39 percent of the senior executives and 37 percent of the farm 
workers). The executives, professionals and big employers clearly distin- 
guish themselves solely by choosing — from a list which for them is particu- 
larly narrow — the dish which is both relatively 'light' and symbolically 
marked (in contrast to the ordinary routine of petit-bourgeois cooking), 
bouillabaisse (31 percent, as against 22 percent of the clerical workers, 17 
percent of the small employers, 10 percent of the manual workers, 7 per- 
cent of the farm workers), in which the opposition between fish and meat 
(especially the pork in sauerkraut or cassoulet) is clearly strengthened by 
regionalist and touristic connotations (C.S. XXXIV). It is obvious that the 
imprecise classifications used in this survey prevent one from seeing the ef- 
fects of the secondary opposition between the fractions, and that the ten- 

188 / The Economy of Practices 














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190 / The Economy of Practices 

dencies observed would have been more marked if, for example, it had been 
possible ro isolate the teachers or if the list of dishes had been more diversi- 
fied in the sociologically pertinent respects. 

Tastes in food also depend on the idea each class has of the body and of 
the effects of food on the body, that is, on its strength, health and beauty; 
and on the categories it uses to evaluate these effects, some of which may 
be important for one class and ignored by another, and which the differ- 
ent classes may rank in very different ways. Thus, whereas the working 
classes are more attentive to the strength of the (male) body than its 
shape, and tend to go for products that are both cheap and nutritious, 
the professions prefer products that are tasty, health-giving, light and not 
fattening. Taste, a class culture turned into nature, that is, embodied, helps 
to shape the class body. It is an incorporated principle of classification 
which governs all forms of incorporation, choosing and modifying 
everything that the body ingests and digests and assimilates, physiologi- 
cally and psychologically. It follows that the body is the most indisput- 
able materialization of class taste, which it manifests in several ways. It 
does this first in the seemingly most natural features of the body, the di- 
mensions (volume, height, weight) and shapes (round or square, stiff or 
supple, straight or curved) of its visible forms, which express in countless 
ways a whole relation to the body, i.e., a way of treating it, caring for it, 
feeding it, maintaining it, which reveals the deepest dispositions of the 
habitus. It is in fact through preferences with regard to food which may 
be perpetuated beyond their social conditions of production (as, in other 
areas, an accent, a walk etc.), 2 and also, of course, through the uses of 
the body in work and leisure which are bound up with them, that the 
class distribution of bodily properties is determined. 

The quasi-conscious representation of the approved form of the per- 
ceived body, and in particular its thinness or fatness, is not the only me- 
diation through which the social definition of appropriate foods is 
established. At a deeper level, the whole body schema, in particular the 
physical approach to the act of eating, governs the selection of certain 
foods. For example, in the working classes, fish tends to be regarded as an 
unsuitable food for men, not only because it is a light food, insufficiently 
'filling', which would only be cooked for health reasons, i.e., for invalids 
and children, but also because, like fruit (except bananas) it is one of the 
'fiddly' things which a man's hands cannot cope with and which make 
him childlike (the woman, adopting a maternal role, as in all similar 
cases, will prepare the fish on the plate or peel the pear); but above all, it 
is because fish has to be eaten in a way which totally contradicts the mas- 
culine way of eating, that is, with restraint, in small mouthfuls, chewed 
gently, with the front of the mouth, on the tips of the teeth (because of 
the bones). The whole masculine identity — what is called virility — is in- 
volved in these two ways of eating, nibbling and picking, as befits a 

Ttx Habit w and the Space gf Ufe-Stytes / 191 

The body for the job 

woman, or with whole-hearted male gulps and mourhfuls, just as ir is in 
volved in the two {perfectly homologous) ways of talking, with the 
front of the mouth or the whole mouth, especially the back of the 
mouth, rhe throat (in accordance with the opposition, noted in an earlier 
study, between the manners symbolized by la boucbe and fa gueufe). 14 

This opposition can be found in each of the uses of the body, especially 
in the most insignificant-looking ones, which, as such, are predisposed to 
serve as 'memory joggers' charged with the group's deepest values, its 
most fundamental 'beliefs\ It would be easy to show, for example, that 
Kleenex tissues, which have to be used delicately, with a little sniff from 
the rip of the nose, are to the big cotton handkerchief, which is blown 
into sharply and loudly, with the eyes closed and the nose held tightly, as 
repressed laughter is to a helly laugh, with wrinkled nose, wide-open 

192 / The Economy of Practices 

mouch and deep breathing ('doubled up with laughter'), as if to amplify 
to the utmost an experience which will not suffer containment, not least 
because it has to be shared, and therefore clearly manifested for the bene- 
fit of others. 

And the practical philosophy of the male body as a sort of power, big 
and strong, with enormous, imperative, brutal needs, which is asserted in 
every male posture, especially when eating, is also the principle of the di- 
vision of foods between the sexes, a division which both sexes recognize 
in their practices and their language. It behooves a man to drink and eat 
more, and to eat and drink stronger things. Thus, men will have two 
rounds of aperitifs (more on special occasions), big ones in big glasses 
(the success of Ricard or Pernod is no doubt partly due to its being a 
drink both strong and copious — not a dainty 'thimbleful'), and they 
leave the tit-bits (savoury biscuits, peanuts) to the children and the 
women, who have a small measure (not enough to 'get tipsy') of home- 
made aperitif (for which they swap recipes). Similarly, among the hors 
d'oeuvres, the charcuterie is more for the men, and later the cheese, espe- 
cially if it is strong, whereas the crudites (raw vegetables) are more for the 
women, like the salad; and these affinities are marked by taking a second 
helping or sharing what is left over. Meat, the nourishing food par excel- 
lence, strong and strong-making, giving vigour, blood, and health, is the 
dish for the men, who take a second helping, whereas the women are sat- 
isfied with a small portion. It is not that they are stinting themselves; 
they really don't want what others might need, especially the men, the 
natural meat-eaters, and they derive a sort of authority from what they do 
not see as a privation. Besides, they don't have a taste for men's food, 
which is reputed to be harmful when eaten to excess (for example, a sur- 
feit of meat can 'turn the blood', over-excite, bring you out in spots etc.) 
and may even arouse a sort of disgust. 

Strictly biological differences are underlined and symbolically accen- 
tuated by differences in bearing, differences in gesture, posture and beha- 
viour which express a whole relationship to the social world. To these are 
added all the deliberate modifications of appearance, especially by use of 
the set of marks — cosmetic (hairstyle, make-up, beard, moustache, whisk- 
ers etc.) or vestimentary — which, because they depend on the economic 
and cultural means that can be invested in them, function as social mark- 
ers deriving their meaning and value from their position in the system of 
distinctive signs which they constitute and which is itself homologous 
with the system of social positions,' The sign-bearing, sign-wearing body 
is also a producer of signs which are physically marked by the relation- 
ship to the body: thus the valorization of virility, expressed in a use of 
the mouth or a pitch of the voice, can determine the whole of working- 
class pronunciation. The body, a social product which is the only tangi- 
ble manifestation of the 'person', is commonly perceived as the most nat- 
ural expression of innermost nature. There are no merely 'physical' facial 

The Habitus and the Space of Life-Styles / 193 

signs; the colour and thickness of lipstick, or expressions, as well as the 
shape of the face or the mouth, are immediately read as indices of a 
'moral' physiognomy, socially characterized, i.e., of a 'vulgar' or 'distin- 
guished' mind, naturally 'natural' or naturally 'cultivated'. The signs 
constituting the perceived body, cultural products which differentiate 
groups by their degree of culture, that is, their distance from nature, 
seem grounded in nature. The legitimate use of the body is spontane- 
ously perceived as an index of moral uprightness, so that its opposite, a 
'natural' body, is seen as an index of taisser-aller ('letting oneself go'), a 
culpable surrender to facility. 

Thus one can begin to map out a universe of class bodies, which (bio- 
logical accidents apart) tends to reproduce in its specific logic the uni- 
verse of the social structure. It is no accident that bodily properties are 
perceived through social systems of classification which are not indepen- 
dent of the distribution of these properties among the social classes. The 
prevailing taxonomies tend to rank and contrast the properties most fre- 
quent among the dominant (i.e., the rarest ones) and those most fre- 
quent among the dominated. The social representation of his own body 
which each agent has to reckon with, from the very beginning, in order 
to build up his subjective image of his body and his bodily hexis, is thus 
obtained by applying a social system of classification based on the same 
principle as the social products to which it is applied. Thus, bodies would 
have every likelihood of receiving a value strictly corresponding to the 
positions of their owners in the distribution of the other fundamental 
properties — but for the fact that the logic of social heredity sometimes 
endows those least endowed in all other respects with the rarest bodily 
properties, such as beauty (sometimes 'fatally' attractive, because it 
threatens the other hierarchies), and, conversely, sometimes denies the 
'high and mighty' the bodily attributes of their position, such as height 
or beauty. 

unpretentious OR uncouth? It is clear that tastes in food cannot be 
considered in complete independence of the other dimensions of the rela- 
tionship to the world, to others and to one's own body, through which 
the practical philosophy of each class is enacted. To demonstrate this, one 
would have to make a systematic comparison of the working-class and 
bourgeois ways of treating food, of serving, presenting and offering it, 
which are infinitely more revelatory than even the nature of the products 
involved (especially since most surveys of consumption ignore differ- 
ences in quality). The analysis is a difficult one, because each life-style can 
only really be constructed in relation to the other, which is its objective 
and subjective negation, so that the meaning of behaviour is totally re- 
versed depending on which point of view is adopted and on whether the 
common words which have to be used to name the conduct (e.g., 'man- 
ners') are invested with popular or bourgeois connotations. 

194 / The Economy of Practices 

Considerable misunderstanding can result from ignorance of this mecha- 
nism in all surveys by questionnaire, which are always an exchange of 
words. The confusions are made even worse when the interviewer tries to 
collect opinions about words or reactions to words (as in the 'ethical test' 
in which the respondents were presented with the same lists of adjectives to 
describe an ideal friend, garment or interior). The responses he records in 
this case have in fact been defined in relation to stimuli which, beyond 
their nominal identity (that of the words offered), vary in their perceived 
reality, and therefore their practical efficacy, in accordance with the very 
principles of variation (and firstly, social class) whose effects one is seeking 
to measure (which can lead to literally meaningless encounters between op- 
posing, classes). Groups invest themselves totally, with everything that op- 
poses them to other groups, in the common words which express their 
social identity, i.e., their difference. Behind their apparent neutrality, words 
as ordinary as 'practical', 'sober', 'clean', 'functional', 'amusing', 'delicate', 
'cosy', 'distinguished' are thus divided against themselves, because the differ- 
ent classes either give them different meanings, or give them the same 
meaning but attribute opposite values to the things named. Some examples: 
soigne (neat, trim, careful, well-groomed, well-kept), so strongly appro- 
priated by those who use it to express their taste for a job well done, prop- 
erly finished, or for the meticulous attention they devote to their personal 
appearance, that it no doubt evokes for those who reject it the narrow or 
'up-tight' rigour they dislike in the petit-bourgeois style; or drole (amusing, 
funny, droll), whose social connotations, associated with a socially marked 
pronunciation, bourgeois or snobbish, clash with the values expressed, 
putting off those who would certainly respond to a popular equivalent of 
drole, such as bidonnant, warrant or rigolo; or, again, sobre, which, applied to 
a garment or an interior, can mean radically different things when express- 
ing the prudent, defensive strategies of a small craftsman, the aesthetic as- 
ceticism of a teacher or the austerity-in-luxury of the old-world grand 
bourgeon. It can be seen that every attempt to produce an ethical organon 
common to all classes is condemned from the start, unless, like every 'uni- 
versal' morality or religion, it plays systematically on the fact that language 
is both common to the different classes and capable of receiving different, 
even opposite, meanings in the particular, and sometimes antagonistic, uses 
that are made of it. 

Plain speaking, plain eating: the working-class meal is characterized by 
plenty (which does not exclude restrictions and limits) and above all by 
freedom. 'Elastic' and 'abundant' dishes are brought to the table — soups 
or sauces, pasta or potatoes (almost always included among the vegeta- 
bles) — and served with a ladle or spoon, to avoid too much measuring 
and counting, in contrast to everything that has to be cut and divided, 
such as roasts. This impression of abundance, which is the norm on 
special occasions, and always applies, so far as is possible, for the men, 
whose plates are filled twice (a privilege which marks a boy's accession to 
manhood), is often balanced, on ordinary occasions, by restrictions 

The Habitus and the Space of Life-Styles / 1 95 

which generally apply to the women, who will share one portion be- 
tween two, or eat the left-overs of the previous day; a girl's accession to 
womanhood is marked by doing without. It is part of men's status to eat 
and to eat well (and also to drink well); it is particularly insisted that 
they should eat, on the grounds that 'it won't keep', and there is some- 
thing suspect about a refusal. On Sundays, while the women are on their 
feet, busily serving, clearing the table, washing up, the men remain 
seated, still eating and drinking. These strongly marked differences of so- 
cial status (associated with sex and age) are accompanied by no practical 
differentiation (such as the bourgeois division between the dining room 
and the kitchen, where the servants eat and sometimes the children), and 
strict sequencing of the meal tends to be ignored. Everything may be put 
on the table at much the same time (which also saves walking), so that 
the women may have reached the dessert, and also the children, who will 
take their plates and watch television, while the men are still eating the 
main dish and the 'lad', who has arrived late, is swallowing his soup. 
This freedom, which may be perceived as disorder or slovenliness, is 
adapted to its function. Firstly, it is labour-saving, which is seen as an ad- 
vantage. Because men take no part in housework, not least because the 
women would not allow it — it would be a dishonour to see men step 
outside their role — every economy of effort is welcome. Thus, when the 
coffee is served, a single spoon may be passed around to stir it. But these 
short cuts are only permissible because one is and feels at home, among 
the family, where ceremony would be an affectation. For example, to save 
washing up, the dessert may be handed out on improvised plates torn 
from the cake-box (with a joke about 'taking the liberty', to mark the 
transgression), and the neighbour invited in for a meal will also receive 
his piece of cardboard (offering a plate would exclude him) as a sign of 
familiarity^ Similarly, the plates are not changed between dishes. The 
soup plate, wiped with bread, can be used right through the meal. The 
hostess will certainly offer to 'change the plates', pushing back her chair 
with one hand and reaching with the other for the plate next to her, but 
everyone will protest ('It all gets mixed up inside you') and if she were 
to insist it would look as if she wanted to show off her crockery (which 
she is allowed to if it is a new present) or to treat her guests as strangers, 
as is sometimes deliberately done to intruders or 'scroungers' who never 
return the invitation. These unwanted guests may be frozen out by 
changing their plates despite their protests, not laughing at their jokes, 
or scolding the children for their behaviour ('No, no, we don't mind', say 
the guests; 'They ought to know better by now', the parents respond). 
The common root of all these 'liberties' is no doubt the sense that at least 
there will not be self-imposed controls, constraints and restrictions — 
especially not in eating, a primary need and a compensation — and espe- 
cially not in the heart of domestic life, the one realm of freedom, when 
everywhere else, and at all other times, necessity prevails. 

1 96 / The Economy of Practices 

In opposition to the free-and-easy working-class meal, the bourgeoisie 
is concerned to eat with all due form. Form is first of all a matter of 
rhythm, which implies expectations, pauses, restraints; waiting until the 
last person served has started to eat, taking modest helpings, not appear- 
ing over-eager. A strict sequence is observed and all coexistence of dishes 
which the sequence separates, fish and meat, cheese and dessert, is ex- 
cluded; for example, before the dessert is served, everything left on the 
table, even the salt-cellar, is removed, and the crumbs are swept up. This 
extension of rigorous rules into everyday life (the bourgeois male shaves 
and dresses first thing every morning, and not just to 'go out'), refusing 
the division between home and the exterior, the quotidian and the extra- 
quotidian, is not explained solely by the presence of strangers — servants 
and guests — in the familiar family world. It is the expression of a habitus 
of order, restraint and propriety which may not be abdicated. The rela- 
tion to food — the primary need and pleasure — is only one dimension of 
the bourgeois relation to the social world. The opposition between the 
immediate and the deferred, the easy and the difficult, substance (or 
function) and form, which is exposed in a particularly striking fashion in 
bourgeois ways of eating, is the basis of all aestheticization of practice 
and every aesthetic. Through all the forms and formalisms imposed on 
the immediate appetite, what is demanded — and inculcated — is not only 
a disposition to discipline food consumption by a conventional structur- 
ing which is also a gentle, indirect, invisible censorship (quite different 
from enforced privations) and which is an element in an art of living 
(correct eating, for example, is a way of paying homage to one's hosts 
and to the mistress of the house, a tribute to her care and effort). It is 
also a whole relationship to animal nature, to primary needs and the pop- 
ulace who indulge them without restraint; it is a way of denying the 
meaning and primary function of consumption, which are essentially 
common, by making the meal a social ceremony, an affirmation of ethical 
tone and aesthetic refinement. The manner of presenting and consuming 
the food, the organization of the meal and setting of the places, strictly 
differentiated according to the sequence of dishes and arranged to please 
the eye, the presentation of the dishes, considered as much in terms of 
shape and colour (like works of art) as of their consumable substance, 
the etiquette governing posture and gesture, ways of serving oneself and 
others, of using the different utensils, the seating plan, strictly but dis- 
creetly hierarchical, the censorship of all bodily manifestations of the act 
or pleasure of eating (such as noise or haste), the very refinement of the 
things consumed, with quality more important than quantity — this 
whole commitment to stylization tends to shift the emphasis from sub- 
stance and function to form and manner, and so to deny the crudely ma- 
terial reality of .the act of eating and of the things consumed, or, which 
amounts to the same thing, the basely material vulgarity of those who 
indulge in the immediate satisfactions of food and drink." 


The Habitus and the Space of Life-Styles / 191 

The main findings of an extremely detailed survey of the art of entertaining 
(CS. XLIII) are brought together in a synoptic table (see table 19) which 
confirms and extends these arguments. It can be seen first that, in the 
working class, the world of reciprocal invitations, spontaneous or organized, 
is restricted to the family and the world of familiars who can be treated as 
'one of the family', people 'you feel at home with', whereas 'acquaintances', 
'connections', in the sense of professional or business connections who are 
useful in one's work, appear in the middle classes but are essentially a fea- 
ture of the dominant class. One sign of this informality is that working- 
class invitations tend to be for coffee, dessert or an aperitif (whereas, at the 
other end of the social space, invitations are more often for tea, lunch or 
dinner, or to go out to a restaurant). If working-class people prefer to limit 
their spontaneous invitations to the offer of a drink or coffee, this is be- 
cause there can be no 'half-measures' in giving a meal, no 'quick and easy 
solutions' (as recommended by the women's weeklies) to save time and ef- 
fort, such as a buffet or a single course. 30 

This refusal to skimp (the main thing is to make sure that the guests 
have enough to eat and that the food 'goes down well', secondarily that 
they are not bored) is even more clearly seen when the composition of the 
meals is analysed. For manual workers, a real meal is a meal with nothing 
left out, from the aperitif through to the dessert (whereas the other classes 
are often willing to 'simplify' by omitting the hors d'oeuvre, the salad or 
the dessert. 31 Because substance takes priority over form, if anything has to 
be 'simplified' it can only be in the order of form, etiquette, which is seen 
as inessential, purely symbolic. No matter that the tableware is ordinary, so 
long as the food is 'extra-ordinary'; this is a commonplace underlined by 
many ritual remarks. No matter that the guests are not seated as etiquette 
dictates, nor dressed for the occasion. No matter that the children are pre- 
sent at a meal which is in no way a ritual — so long as they do not chip 
into the conversation, which is adults' business. Since informality is the 
order of the day, there is no reason not to keep an eye on the television, to 
break into song at the end of the meal or even organize games; here too, 
since the function is clearly recognized — 'We're here to have fun' — fun will 
be had, using every available means (drinks, games, funny stories etc.). And 
the primacy of substance over form, the refusal of the denial implied in for- 
mality, is again expressed in the content of the goods exchanged on arrival: 
flowers, which are seen as gratuitous, as art, art for art's sake (there are 
jokes to the effect that 'you can't eat them') are discarded in favour of 
earthly foods, wines or desserts, presents that 'always go down well* and 
which can be unpretentiously offered and accepted in the name of a realistic 
view of the costs of the meal and a willingness to share in them. 

Given the basic opposition between form and substance, one could 
re-generate each of the oppositions between the two antagonistic ap- 
proaches to the treatment of food and the act of eating. In one case, food 
is claimed as a material reality, a nourishing substance which sustains the 
body and gives strength (hence the emphasis on heavy, fatty, strong 
foods, of which the paradigm is pork- — fatty and salty — the antithesis of 

198 / The Economy of Practices 
Table 19 Variations in entertaining, by class fraction (%), I978. a 





Variations in ways of entertaining 

Manual workers 



Spontaneous invitations reserv 

ed for: 

close family 




close friends 




children's friends 








Invite in advance: 

close family 




colleagues /associates 




Invite fairly or very often for: 













Make spontaneous invitations 






a meal 




Most important thing in spontaneous 


successful cooking 




enough to eat 




guests not bored 




Prefer to offer guests: 

buffet or single dish 




a full meal 




When entertaining, use (reg and 






crystal glasses 




china crockery 




ordinary glasses 




earthenware crockery 




Like their guests to dress: 









Seating — prefer: 

to indicate guest's place 




guests to choose places 




to separate couples 




not to separate couples 




Children welcome (avg. min. 

age in 


at meal 




at end of evening 




in conversation 




Guests bring: 













The Habitus and the Space of Life-Styles / 1 99 

Table 19 (continued) 

Variations in ways of entertaining 





Manual workers 















When entertaining, like: 
background music 
t o keep an eye o n TV 
singing after meal 
organizing games 

Source: C.S. XLIII (1978). 

a. This table is read as follows: 51.7% of manual workers restrict their spontane- 
ous invitations to their close family, 20.9% to close friends etc.; 34.7% of clerical 
workers and junior executives restrict such invitations to their close family, 35.9% 
to close friends etc. For each question the total of the percentages may be greater or 
less than 100, since for each question the respondents could choose several answers 
or none. Italic figures indicate the strongest tendency in each row. 

fish — light, lean and bland); in the other, the priority given to form (the 
shape of the body, for example) and social form, formality, puts the pur- 
suit of strength and substance in the background and identifies true free- 
dom with the elective asceticism of a self-imposed rule,/ And it could be 
shown that two antagonistic world views, two worlds, two representa- 
tions of human excellence are contained in this matrix. Substance — or 
matter — is what is substantial, not only 'filling' but also real, as opposed 
to all appearances, all the fine words and empty gestures that 4 butter no 
parsnips' and are, as the phrase goes, purely symbolic; reality, as against 
sham, imitation, window-dressing; the little eating-house with its mar- 
ble-topped tables and paper napkins where you get an honest square meal 
and aren't 'paying for the wallpaper' as in fancy restaurants; being, as 
against seeming, nature and the natural, simplicity (pot-luck, 'take it as it 
comes', 'no standing on ceremony'), as against embarrassment, mincing 
and posturing, airs and graces, which are always suspected of being a 
substitute for substance, i.e., for sincerity, for feeling, for what is felt and 
proved in actions; it is the free-speech and language of the heart which 
make the true 'nice guy', blunt, straightforward, unbending, honest, 
genuine, 'straight down the line' and 'straight as a die', as opposed to 
everything that is pure form, done only for form's sake; it is freedom and 
the refusal of complications, as opposed to respect for all the forms and 
formalities spontaneously perceived as instruments of distinction and 
power. On these moralities, these world views, there is no neutral view- 
point, what for some is shameless and slovenly, for others is straightfor- 
ward, unpretentious; familiarity is for some the most absolute form of 
recognition, the abdication of all distance, a trusting openness, a relation 
of equal to equal; for others, who shun familiarity, it is an unseemly 

200 / The Economy of Practical 

The popular realism which inclines working people to reduce practices 
to the reality of their function, to do what they do, and be what they are 
{'That's the way I am'), without 'kidding themselves' (That's the way 
it is'), and the practical materialism which inclines them to censor the 
expression of feelings or to divert emotion into violence or oaths, are 
the near-perfect antithesis of the aesthetic disavowal which, by a sort 
of essential hypocrisy (seen, for example, in the opposition between por- 
nography and eroticism) masks the interest in function by the primacy 
given to form, so chat what people do, they do as if they were not do- 
ing it. 

the visible and THt INVISIBLE But food— which the working classes 
place on the side of being and substance, whereas the bourgeoisie, refus- 
ing the distinction between inside and outside or 'at home' and 'for 
others', the quotidian and the extra quotidian, introduces into it the cate- 
gories of form and appearance — is itself related to clothing as inside to 
outside, the domestic to the public, being to seeming. And the inversion 
of the places of food and clothing in the contrast between the spending 
patterns of the working classes, who give priority to being, and the mid 
die classes, where the concern for 'seeming' arises, is the sign of a reversal 
of the whole world view. The working classes make a realistic or, one 
might say, functionalist use of clothing Looking for substance and func- 
tion raiher than form, ihey seek 'value tor money* and choose what will 

The Habitus and the Space of Life-Styles / 201 

'last'. Ignoring the bourgeois concern to introduce formality and formal 
dress into the domestic world, the place for freedom — an apron and slip- 
pers (for women), bare chest or a vest (for men) — they scarcely mark the 
distinction between top clothes, visible, intended to be seen, and under- 
clothes, invisible or hidden — unlike the middle classes, who have a de- 
gree of anxiety about external appearances, both sartorial and cosmetic, at 
least outside and at work (to which middle-class women more often have 

Thus, despite the limits of the data available, one finds in men's cloth- 
ing (which is much more socially marked, at the level of what can be 
grasped by statistics on purchases, than women's clothing) the equiva- 
lent of the major oppositions found in food consumption. In the first di- 
mension of the space, the division again runs between the office workers 
and the manual workers and is marked particularly by the opposition be- 
tween grey or white overalls and blue dungarees or boiler-suits, between 
town shoes and the more relaxed moccasins, kickers or sneakers (not to 
mention dressing-gowns, which clerical workers buy 3-5 times more 
often than manual workers). The increased quantity and quality of all 
purchases of men's clothing is summed up in the opposition between the 
suit, the prerogative of the senior executive, and the blue overall, the dis- 
tinctive mark of the farmer and industrial worker (it is virtually un- 
known in other groups, except craftsmen); or between the overcoat, 
always much rarer among men than women, but much more frequent 
among senior executives than the other classes, and the fur-lined jacket 
or lumber jacket, mainly worn by agricultural and industrial workers. In 
between are the junior executives, who now scarcely ever wear working 
clothes but fairly often buy suits. 

Among women, who, in all categories (except farmers and farm la- 
bourers), spend more than men (especially in the junior and senior exec- 
utive, professional and other high-income categories), the number of 
purchases increases as one moves up the social hierarchy; the difference is 
greatest for suits and costumes — expensive garments — and smaller for 
dresses and especially skirts and jackets. The top-coat, which is increas- 
ingly frequent among women at higher social levels, is opposed to the 
'all-purpose' raincoat, in the same way as overcoat and lumber jacket are 
opposed for men. The use of the smock and the apron, which in the 
working classes is virtually the housewife's uniform, increases as one 
moves down the hierarchy (in contrast to the dressing-gown, which is 
virtually unknown among peasants and industrial workers). 

Every year, on average, manual workers buy more handkerchiefs, vests and 
underpants, and about as many socks, sweat shirts, sweaters etc. as the other 
classes, but fewer pyjamas (like dressing-gowns, a typically bourgeois gar- 
ment) and shirts. Among women, the class differences in underwear pur- 
chases, which are clearly marked as regards price, are less strong as regards 
number (and are even inverted for slips, nightdresses, stockings, tights and 

202 / The Economy of Practices 

handkerchiefs). By contrast, among both men and women, purchases of top 
clothes increase in number and value as one moves up the social hierarchy. 
The transverse oppositions are harder to determine because the survey on 
household living conditions, which would show variations by five catego- 
ries, makes only very rough divisions by item. However, expenditure on 
clothing (almost entirely devoted to top clothes) varies strongly between 
the fractions of the dominant class, rising steadily from teachers, who de- 
vote least to this item in both absolute and relative terms (1,523 francs per 
annum, or 3-7 percent), through the industrial and commercial employers 
(4.5 percent), senior executives (5.7 percent) and engineers (6.1 percent) 
to the members of the professions (4,361 francs or 7.6 percent). These dif- 
ferences in the value placed on these means of self-presentation (shoe con- 
sumption varies like that of clothes) can be traced back to the generative 
formulae which retranslate the necessities and facilities characteristic of a 
position and a condition into a particular life-style, determining the value 
and importance accorded to social 'connections' — smallest, it seems, among 
teachers, who are close in this respect to the petite bourgeoisie, and greatest 
in the professions or the bourgeoisie of big business, which is not isolated 
in the statistics — as an opportunity to accumulate social capital. But in 
order to characterize completely the specific form which the basic principles 
of each life-style take in this particular area, one would need to have close 
descriptions of the quality of the objects in question, cloth (e.g., the 
English associate tweeds with the 'country gentleman'), colour, cut, en- 
abling one to grasp the taxonomies used and the conscious or unconscious 
expressive intentions ('young 1 or 'classical', 'sporty' or 'smart' etc.). There 
is, however, every reason to think that clothing and hairstyles become 
'younger' as one moves away from the dominant pole, more and more 'seri- 
ous' (i.e., dark, severe, classical) as one moves towards it. 32 The younger 
one is socially, that is, younger in biological age, and the closer, within the 
space of the fractions, to the dominated pole or to the new sectors of occu- 
pational space, the greater the affinities with all the new forms of dress 
(unisex garments of 'junior fashion', jeans, sweat shirts and so forth) which 
are defined by a refusal of the constraints and conventions of 'dressing up'. 

The interest the different classes have in self-presentation, the attention 
they devote to it, their awareness of the profits it gives and the invest- 
ment of time, effort, sacrifice and care which they actually put into it are 
proportionate to the chances of material or symbolic profit they can rea- 
sonably expect from it (see table 20). More precisely, they depend on the 
existence of a labour market in which physical appearance may be val- 
orized in the performance of the job itself or in professional relations, 
and on the differential chances of access to this market and the sectors of 
this market in which beauty and deportment most strongly contribute to 
occupational value. A first indication of this correspondence between the 
propensity to cosmetic investments and the chances of profit may be seen 
in the gap, for all forms of beauty care, between those who work and 
those who do not (which must also vary according to the nature of the 
job and the work environment). It can be understood in terms of this 

The Habitus and the Space of Life-Styles { 203 

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206 / The Economy of Practices 

logic why working-class women, who are less likely to have a job and 
much less likely to enter one of the occupations which most strictly de- 
mand conformity to the dominant norms of beauty, are less aware than 
all others of the 'market' value of beauty and much less inclined to invest 
time and effort, sacrifices and money in cultivating their bodies. 

It is quite different with the women of the petite bourgeoisie, espe- 
cially the new petite bourgeoisie, in the occupations involving presenta- 
tion and representation, which often impose a uniform {tenue) intended, 
among other things, to abolish all traces of heterodox taste, and which 
always demand what is called tenue, in the sense of 'dignity of conduct 
and correctness of manners', implying, according to the dictionary, 'a re- 
fusal to give way to vulgarity or facility'. (In the specialized 'charm 
schools' which train hostesses, the working-class girls who select them- 
selves on the basis of 'natural' beauty undergo a radical transformation in 
their way of walking, sitting, laughing, smiling, talking, dressing, mak- 
ing-up etc) Women of the petite bourgeoisie who have sufficient inter- 
ests in the market in which physical properties can function as capital to 
recognize the dominant image of the body unconditionally without pos- 
sessing, at least in their own eyes (and no doubt objectively) enough 
body capital to obtain the highest profits, are, here too, at the site of 
greatest tension. 

The self-assurance given by the certain knowledge of one's own value, 
especially that of one's body or speech, is in fact very closely linked to the 
position occupied in social space (and also, of course, to trajectory). 
Thus, the proportion of women who consider themselves below average 
in beauty, or who think they look older than they are, falls very rapidly as 
one moves up the social hierarchy. Similarly, the ratings, women give 
themselves for the different parts of their bodies tend to rise with social 
position, and this despite the fact that the implicit demands rise too. It is 
not surprising that petit-bourgeois women — who are almost as dissatis- 
fied with their bodies as working-class women (they are the ones who 
most often wish they looked different and who are most discontented 
with various parts of their bodies), while being more aware of the use- 
fulness of beauty and more often recognizing the dominant ideal of 
physical excellence — devote such great investments, of self-denial and 
especially of time, to improving their appearance and are such uncon- 
ditional believers in all forms of cosmetic voluntarism (e.g., plastic 

As for the women of the dominant class, they derive a double assur- 
ance from their bodies. Believing, like petit-bourgeois women, in the 
value of beauty and the value of the effort to be beautiful, and so associat- 
ing aesthetic value and moral value, they feel superior both in the intrin- 
sic, natural beauty of their bodies and in the art of self-embellishment 
and everything they call tenue, a moral and aesthetic virtue which defines 
'nature' negatively as sloppiness. Beauty can thus be simultaneously a gift- 

The Habitus and the Space of Life-Styles / 201 

of nature and a conquest of merit, as much opposed to the abdications of 
vulgarity as to ugliness. 

Thus, the experience par excellence of the 'alienated body', embarrass- 
ment', and the opposite experience, ease, are clearly unequally probable 
for members of the petite bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie, who grant the 
same recognition to the same representation of the legitimate body and 
legitimate deportment, but are unequally able to achieve it. The chances 
of experiencing one's own body as a vessel of grace, a continuous miracle, 
are that much greater when bodily capacity is commensurate with recog- 
nition; and, conversely, the probability of experiencing the body with 
unease, embarrassment, timidity grows with the disparity between the 
ideal body and the real body, the dream body and the 'looking-glass self 1 
reflected in the reactions of others (the same laws are also true of 

The mere fact that the most sought-after bodily properties (slimness, beauty 
etc) are not randomly distributed among the classes (for example, the pro- 
portion of women whose waist measurement is greater than the modal 
waist rises sharply as one moves down the social hierarchy) is sufficient to 
exclude the possibility of treating the relationship which agents have with 
the social representation of their own body as a generic alienation, constitu- 
tive of the 'body for others'. The 'alienated body' described by Sartre is a 
generic body, as is the 'alienation' which befalls each body when it is per- 
ceived and named, and therefore objectified by the gaze and the discourse of 
others" The phenomenologists' 'body-for-others' is doubly a social product: 
it derives its distinctive properties from its social conditions of production; 
and the social gaze is not a universal, abstract, objectifying power, like the 
Sartrian gaze, but a social power, whose efficacy is always partly due to the 
fact that the receiver recognizes the categories of perception and apprecia- 
tion it applies to him or her. 

Although it is not a petit-bourgeois monopoly, the petit-bourgeois ex- 
perience of the world starts out from timidity, the embarrassment of 
someone who is uneasy in his body and his language and who, instead of 
being 'as one body with them', observes them from outside, through 
other people's eyes, watching, checking, correcting himself, and who, by 
his desperate attempts to reappropriate an alienated being-for-others, ex- 
poses himself to appropriation, giving himself away as much by hyper- 
correction as by clumsiness. The timidity which, despite itself, realizes 
the objectified body, which lets itself be trapped in the destiny proposed 
by collective perception and statement (nicknames etc.), is betrayed by a 
body that is subject to the representation of others even in its passive, 
unconscious reactions (one feels oneself blushing). By contrast, ease, a 
sort of indifference to the objectifying gaze of others which neutralizes its 
powers, presupposes the self-assurance which comes from the certainty of 

208 / The Economy of Practices 

being able ro objectify that objectifkation, appropriate thar appropria- 
tion, of being capable of imposing the norms of apperception of one's 
own body, in short, of commanding all the powers which, even when 
they reside in the body and apparently borrow its most specific weapons, 
such as 'presence' or charm, are essentially irreducible to it. This is the 
real meaning of the findings of the experiment by W. D. Dannenmaier 
and F. J. Thumin, in which the subjects, when asked to assess the height 
of familiar persons from memory, tended to overestimate most the 
height of those who had most authority or prestige in their eyes. 3 : (lt 
would seem that the logic whereby the 'great' are perceived as physically 
greater than they are applies very generally, and that authority of what- 
ever sort contains a power of seduction which it would be naive to re- 
duce to the effect of self-interested servility. That is why political 
contestation has always made use of caricature, a distortion of the bodily 
image intended to break the charm and hold up to ridicule one of the 
principles of the effect of authority imposition. ) 

Charm and charisma in fact designate the power, which certain people 
have, to impose their own self-image as the objective and collective 
image of their body and being; to persuade others, as in love or faith, to 
abdicate their generic power of objectifkation and delegate it to the per- 
son who should be its object, who thereby becomes an absolute subject, 
without an exterior (being his own Other), fully justified in existing, le- 
gitimated. The charismatic leader manages to be for the group what he is 
for himself, instead of being for himself, like those dominated in the sym- 
bolic struggle, what he is for others. He 'makes' the opinion which 
makes him; he constitutes himself as an absolute by a manipulation of 
symbolic power which is constitutive of his power since it enables him to 
produce and impose his own objectifkation. 

The Universes of Stylistic Possibles 

Thus, the spaces defined by preferences in food, clothing or cosmetics are 
organized according to the same fundamental structure, that of the social 
space determined by volume and composition of capital. Fully to con- 
struct the space of life-styles within which cultural practices are defined, 
one would first have to establish, for each class and class fraction, that is, 
for each of the configurations of capital, the generative formula of the 
habitus which retranslates the necessities and facilities characteristic of 
that class of (relatively) homogeneous conditions of existence into a par- 
ticular life-style. One would then have to determine how the dispositions 
of the habitus are specified, for each of the major areas of practice, by im- 
plementing one of the stylistic possibles offered by each field (the field of 
sport, or music, or food, decoration, politics, language etc.). By superim- 
posing these homologous spaces one would obtain a rigorous representa- 
tion of the space of life-styles, making it possible to characterize each of 

The Habitus and the Space of Life-Styles / 209 

the distinctive features (e.g., wearing a cap or playing the piano) in the 
two respects in which it is objectively denned, that is, on the one hand by 
reference to the set of features constituting the area in question (e.g., the 
system of hairstyles), and on the other hand by reference to the set of 
features constituting a particular life-style (e.g., the working-class life- 
style), within which its social significance is determined. 

For example, the universe of sporting activities and entertainments 
presents itself to each new entrant as a set of ready-made choices, objec- 
tively instituted possibles, traditions, rules, values, equipment, symbols, 
which receive their social significance from the system they constitute 
and which derive a proportion of their properties, at each moment, from 

A sport such as rugby presents an initial ambiguity. In England, at least, it 
is still played in the elite 'public schools', whereas in France it has become 
the characteristic sport of the working and middle classes of the regions 
south of the Loire (while preserving some 'academic' bastions such as the 
Racing Club or the Paris Universite Club). This ambiguity can only be un- 
derstood if one bears in mind the history of the process which, as in the 
'elite schools' of nineteenth-century England, leads to the transmutation of 
popular games into elite sports, associated with an aristocratic ethic and 
world view ('fair play', 'will to win' etc.), entailing a radical change in 
meaning and function entirely analogous to what happens to popular 
dances when they enter the complex forms of 'serious' music; and the less 
well-known history of the process of popularization, akin to the diffusion of 
classical or 'folk' music on LPs, which, in a second phase, transforms elite 
sport into mass sport, a spectacle as much as a practice. 

The distributional properties which are conferred on the different 
practices when they are evaluated by agents possessing a practical knowl- 
edge of their distribution among agents who are themselves distributed 
into ranked classes, or, in other words, of the probability, for the different 
classes, of practising them, do indeed owe much to past patterns of dis- 
tribution, because of the effects of hysteresis. The 'aristocratic' image of 
sports like tennis, riding or golf can persist beyond a — relative — transfor- 
mation of the material conditions of access, whereas petanque (a form of 
bowls), doubly stigmatized by its popular and southern origins and con- 
nections, has a distributional significance very similar to that of Ricard or 
other strong drinks and all the cheap, strong foods which are supposed to 
give strength. 

But distributional properties are not the only ones conferred on goods 
by the agents' perception of them. Because agents apprehend objects 
through the schemes of perception and appreciation of their habitus, it 
would be naive to suppose that all practitioners of the same sport (or any 
other practice) confer the same meaning on their practice or even, 


Strength and 

"] was no weakling for my age when 
I starred, but all the same fVe put 5 
inches on my shoulders, 3 inches on 
rny chesr and 1 \*i inches on my 
arms, and all that in just three 
months. It's beyond my wildest 
hopes. My muscles ;re several inches 
bigger and my strength has doubled, 
I fed like a new man. My parents 
and friends used to make fun of me, 
but now my father gets me to take 
off my shirr and show visitors what 
I've achieved, thanks to you.* 
Prospectus for Scutpture Humamt 

'The President's tennis lesson, Paris, 
July 1978. Like a growing number 
of people in France, President 
Valery Giscatd d'Estaing is in- 
teresred in tennis. To improve his 
style, he now rakes regular early- 
morning lessons in a club on the 
outskirts of Paris, where our pho- 
tographer sui prised him.' 

Ttnrus-M agazifi(/Sygtr\2 

' "An aesthete of fashion cannot Iji! 
to be sensitive to the harmony or 
his body," Karl Lagerfcld explains 
Ihe Paris fashion designer spends v 
least thirty minutes a day keeping & 
trim, His bedroom, which he his 
turned into a home gymnasium 
contains all sorts of apparatus: * n 
exercise bicycle, wall bais, a to&** 
machine, a massage machine CTC ' 
Sack from his holidays m Saint- ^ 
Trope* (where he did a lot of «* 
ming), he uses this panoply ■ ol 
equipment to keep himself l°° 
the way he wants "I #ani t° . 
free to choose mv silhouette & 

U Matsou de Marit-Oain ( L 
ber 1971). 



. e aking, that rhcy are practising fhc same practice. It Can easily 
$tf* c ' turn that tn e different classes do not agree on rhe profits expected 
&C ^ poft, be they specific physical profits, such as effects on the external 
^°T (ike slimncss, elegance or visible muscles, and on the internal body, 

health or relaxation; or extrinsic profits, such as the social relarion- 
'^t* a spo rf ma y facilitate, or possible economic and social advantages. 

health or relaxation; or extrinsic profits, such as 

• a spo rf ma X facilitate, or possible economic and 

jl though there are cases in which the dominant function of the prac- 
^ n *u reasoti^'y clearly designated, one is practically never entitled to 
c * cC mC that the different classes expect the same rhing from rhe same 
*** tice. F or example, gymnastics may be asked — this is the popular de- 
P d satisfied by body-building — to produce a strong body, bearing the 

*rjial 5 '£ ns °^ * rs strcn £ c h» or a healthy body — this is the bourgeois de- 
n d satisfied by 'keep-fit' exercises or 'slimnastics' — or, wich the 'new 


, plastics', a 'liberated' body — this is the demand characteristic of 
women in the new fractions of the bourgeoisie and petite bourgeoisie.** 
Only a merhodical analysis of the variations in the function and meaning 
confcried on the different sporting activities will enable one to escape 
[torn abstract, formal 'typologies' b a sed (ir is rhe law of the genre) on 
umveisalizing the researcher's personal experience, and to construct the 
able of the sociologically pertinent features in terms of which the agents 
(consciously or unconsciously) choose their sports. 

"Dip meaning of a sporting practice is linked to so many variables — how 
hngago, and how, the sport was learnt, how often it is played, the socially 
qualified conditions (place, time, facilities, equipment), how it is played 
(position in a team, style etc) — thar mosr of the available statistical data 
*fc very difficult to interpret. This is especially true of highly dispersed prac- 
' ,cts » such as pcranquc. which may be played every weekend, on a prepared 
pitch, with regular partners, or improvised on holiday to amuse the chil- 
are - r »; or gymnastics, which may be simple daily or weekly keep fit exercises, 

™ >rnc , without special equipment, or performed in a special gymnasium 
*bose 'quality' (and pfice) vary with its equipmentand services (not to 
jnrn tm athletic gymnastics and all the forms of 'new gymnastics*). But 

ikied"* ^ aCC m *^ c Same c * ass * 8' vCn identical frequency, rhose who have 
0r a ° r P* 2 Y*d tennis from early childhood and those who learnt as adults, 
meJu?- 1 ^ 01 * who s ^' m tn e school holidays and those who have the 

the *° ^ at other times and off rhe beaten track? In fact, it is rare for 
l *°ris dlr k Qmo gcneity of the practitioners ro be so great that the popula- 
>cry dr£ n . y *** sam ^ activity do not function as fields in which the 
' niaf c wa lt '^ n °^ l ^ c ^B^ mzK practice is at stake. Conflicts over the legit- 
$*% j_ - domg it, or over rhe resources for doing it (budget alloca- 
^ *c: stvU^ nr ' 8 r ° un ds etc.) almost always retranslate social differences 
^titUa ^*T C loglC of chc 6c,d * ™ us s P orts which Mr undergoing Me- 
'V dtff D m2 Y CaXiSc ( o coexist (generally in separate spaces or times) 
In rK rfCnr Su hpopulations which correspond to different ages of the 
e c *sc of tennis, tile members of private clubs, long-standing 

212 / The Economy oj Practices 

practitioners who are more than ever acrached to strict standards of d ttSs 
I-acoste shirt, white shorts or skirt, special shoes) and all that this j^ .. {\ 
are opposed in evejy respect ro the new practitioners in municipal club? 1, 
holiday clubs who demonstrate that the ritual of clothing is no sup^ .*H 
aspect of the legitimate practice. Tennis played in Bermuda shorts and ' a ' 
shirt, in a track suit or even swimming trunks, and Adidas running-sk te * 
is indeed another tennis,, borh in the way it is played and in the satisf^ 
tions it gives. And so the necessary circle whereby the meaning of a p^l 
rice casts light on the class distribution of practices and this distributia 
casts light on the differentia] meaning of the practice cannot be broken k 
an appeal tc the 'technical* definition. This, far from escaping the looj c l 
the field and its struggles, is most often the work of those who, like phv 
cal-education teachers, are required ro ensure the imposition and method' 1 1 
inculcation of the schemes of pctception and action which, in practice 
ganize the practices, and who are inclined to present the explanations rhtv 
produce as grounded in reason or nature. 

In any case, one only needs to be aware thar the class variations in 
sporting activities are due as much to variations in perception and appnv 
ciation of the immediate or deferred profirs they arc supposed to brine u 
to variations in the costs, both economic and cultural and, indeed, bodily 
(degree of risk and physical efforr), in order to understand in Us broad 
outlines the distribution of these activities among the classes and class 
fractions. Everything takes place as if the probability of raking up the dif 
fcrcnt sports depended, within the limits defined by economic (and cul- 
tural) capital and spare time, on perception and assessment of the 
intrinsic and extrinsic profits of each sport in terms of the dispositions of 
rhc habitus, and more precisely, in rerms of the relation to the body, 
which is one aspect of this. 

The relationship between die different sports and age is more complex sine* 
it is only defined— through the inrensity of rhe physical effort called for an* 
rhe disposition towards this demand, which is a dimension of class ethos" 
in the relationship between a sport and a class. The most important prop 
crty of the 'popular" sports is that they are tacitly associated with youth-- 
which is spontaneously and implicdy credited with a sorr of temporary '* 
ccncc, expressed, inter alia, in the expending of excess physical (and se* 
energy — and are abandoned very early (generally on entry inro aduir "' • 
symbolized by marriage). By contrast, the common feature of rhe '"j 
gcois' sports, mainly pursued for their health-maintaining funcrions an w 
their social profirs, is that rheir Veriremenr age' is much later, perhaps 
more so the more prestigious they are (e.g., golf). ^^^^ 

The instrumental relation ro their own bodies which the *.^ylf 
classes express in all practices directed towards the hody — diet or .^ 
care* relation ro illness or medical care — is also manifesred in c " 

i>ich demand a high invesrmenr of energy, effort or even pain 
sP° rCS homing) an< i which sometimes endanger the body itself (eg., 
{t$" ycling, parachute jumping, acrobatics, and, ro some extent, all 

which combines the popular features of the ball-game and a battle 

Ru5: v f | 1C body itself and allowing a — pattially regulated -expression 
t" v0 ^j violence and an immediate use of 'natural' physical qualities 

prh sp^ CIC ■)» na5 a ^ n 'tics with the most typically popular disposi- 
4 srf t^ e ' cult of manliness and the taste for a fight, toughness in 'contact* 
°fi itsistan^* l0 t ' rc ^ ncss an ^ ? 2m > an ^ sense of solidarity ('the mates') 
A revelry { ,f rie third half) and so forth. This does not prevent members 

ftke dominant fractions of the dominant class (or some intellectuals, who 
° n ccioasJy or unconsciously express their values) from making an aesthe- 

>o<thical investment in the game and even sometimes playing it. The 
rsuit of toughness and the cult of male values, sometimes mingled with 

n aestheticism of violence and man-to*man combat, bring the deep disposi- 
nons of firsr-degrec practitioners ro the level of discourse. The larrer, being 
Ijitk inclined to verbalize and rheome, find themselves relegated by the 
managerial discourse {that of trainers, ream managers and some journalists) 
to the idle of docile, submissive, brute force ('genrle gianr\ etc.), working- 
dass strength in its approved form (self-sacrifice, 'team spirit' and so forth). 
But the aristocratic rcinteipretation which traditionally hinged on the 'he- 
roic* virtues associated wirh the three-quarter game encounters its limits in 
Ihe reality of modern rugby, which, under the combined effects of modern- 
ised tactics and training, a change in the social recruitment of the players 
nd a wider audience, gives priority to rhe 'forward game', which is increas- 
ingly discussed in meraphors of the meanest industrial labour ('attacking 
ifiecoal-racc') or trench warfare (rhe infantryman who 'durifully' runs 
^kng into enemy fire). 36 

Everything seems ro indicate that the concern to cultivate rhe body 
*Ppea^L in its elementary form — that is, as the cult of health — often as- 
m'jji w * r ^ an ascct ' c exaltarion of sobriery and controlled diet, in the 
*ch c ' asscs (junior executives, the medical services and especially 
Bed Cac ^ CfS ' an< * parricularly among women in these strongly femin- 
ar cat JS or ies) These classes, who arc especially anxious about appear- 
gyrn mcr efore about their body-for-others, go in very intensively for 
rrw t,C5, cnc ascetic sport pat excellence, since it amounts to a sort of 
^ w self * j;r ) * r ° r training's sake. We know from social psychology 
sci 0u * acce prance (the very definition of ease) rises wirh unsclfeon- 
^ c of V hC ^P^y t0 cscap c fascination wirh a self possessed by the 
the IoqL* R ( onc thinks of the look of questioning anxiety, turning 
*ornen others on itself, so frequent nowadays among bourgeois 

^ wcw ° WiW/ ^g r ow old); and so it is undcrsrandablc~that middle- 
^^ n are disposed to sacrifice much rime and efforr ro achieve rhe 

sense of mccring the social norms of self presentation which i$ c i 
condition of forgetting oneself and one's body-for-others (c.S t J 1 *- 

But physical culture and all the strictly health-oriented practices * 
as walking and jogging are also linked in other ways to the disiw Ucr i 
of the culturally richesr fractions of the middle classes and the dom ^ 
class. Generally speaking, they are only meaningful in relation to a lnt 
theoretical, abstract knowledge of the effects of an exercise which llc 
gymnastics, is itself reduced to a series of abstract movements, ^ ' lfl 
posed and organized by reference to a specific, erudite goal (e.g. t * e l f J' 
dominate'), entirely opposed to the total, practically oriented movcm 
of everyday life; and they presuppose a rational faith in rhe deferred of * S 
intangible profits rhey offer (such as protection against ageing 0r ^ n 
cidents linked to age, an abstracr, negative gain). Ir is therefore. und 
standable that rhey should find the conditions for their performance 
the ascetic dispositions of upwardly mobile individuals who are prepay 
to And satisfaction in effort itself and to take the deferred grarincations of 
their present sacrifice at face value. But also, because they can be tx t 
formed in solitude, at rimes and in places beyond rhe reach of the man* 
off the beaten track, and so exclude all competition (this is one of the 
differences between running and jogging), they have a natural ph« 
among the ethical and aesrheric choices which define the aristoctatic as- 
ceticism of the dominated fractions of the dominant class. 

Team sports, which only require competences ('physical' or acquired) 
that are fairly equally distributed among the classes and are therefore 
equally accessible within the limits of the time and energy available, 
might be expected to rise in frequency, like individual sports, as one 
moves through the social hierarchy. However, in accordance with a logic 
observed in other areas — photography, for example — rheir very accessibil- 
ity and all rhat this entails, such as undesirable contacts, rend to discredit 
them in rhe eyes of rhe dominant class. And indeed, the most typically 
popular sports, foorbafJ and rugby, or wrestling and boxing, which, if 
France, in their early days were the delight of aristocrars, but which, m 
becoming popular, have ceased to be whar rhey were, combine ^ r ** 
features which repel the dominant class: not only the social composite 
of their public, which redoubles their commonness, but also the v3 f u 
and virrues demanded, strength, endurance, violence, 'sacrifice', doc i* . 
and submission to collective discipline — so contrary to bourgeois r 
distance' — and the exaltation of competition. 

Regular sporting activity varies strongly by social class, ranging from ' „ t 
percent for farm workers, 10.1 percent for manual workers and i0.6 I* $# 
for clerical workers to 24 percent for junior executives and 32-5 J*^ ^- 
members of the prof essions. Similar variarions are found in relarjon to 
cational level, whereas rhe difference between (he sexes increases. ^ cl 
where, as one moves down the social hierarchy." The variations acc cv 

marked in mc case of an individual sporr like rennis, whereas in rhe 
tf° K j ^cer rhe hierarchy is inverred: it is most played among manual 
0$e ^ fbllo wC ^ W fhc craftsmen and shopkeepers. These dine ences are 
ii<fk €( T plained by the encouragement of sport in schools, but they also re- 
P* from rhe fact tnat the dec It ne in sporting activity with age, which 
ju' r . cf y abruptly and relatively early in the working classes, whtre it 
<* cUrt , WJ ch school leaving or marriage (three-quarters of the peasants 
e0 jn# nual workers have abandoned sporr by age 25), is much slower in 

iTrrv nanc c ^ aSS ' wno3C s P orr ,s explicitly invested with health-giving 


' n0 longer do so but used to at one time is fairly constant, and is even 

•rioi»s ( a * ls shown, for example, by the interest in children's physical 
T^iopdieflt)- ( Tn ' s explains why t in the synoptic rable— table 21 — the 
L!nortion who regularly perform any sporring activity at a given moment 
sf r©aely w i fn position in the Social hierarchy, whereas the proporrion 

highest among craftsmen and shopkeepers.) 

' Airendance at sporring events (especially the most popular of rhem) 
k most common among craiftsmen and shopkeepers, manual workers, 
junior executives and clerical workers (who often also read the sports paper 
C£quipc)\ r hc same is true of interest tn televised sport (soccer, rugby, cy- 
c\in£. hotse-racing). By contrast, the dominant class warches much less 
sporr. either live or on TV, except for tennis, rugby and skiing. 

Just as, in an age when sporting activities were reserved for a few, the 
cult of fair play', the code of play of those who have the self control not 
ro get so carried away by the game that they forget that it is 'only a 
game', was 2 logical development of rhe distinctive function of sporr, so 
roo, in an age when participation is not always a sufficient guarantee of 
the rarity of the participants, those who seek to prove their excellence 
must affirm their disinterestedness by remaining aloof from practices de- 
valued by the appearances of sheep-like conformism which rhey acquired 
by becoming mo e common. To distance themselves from common 
amusements, tnc p f j v i| C g Cc f oncc again need only let themselves be 
gui ed by rhe horror of vulgar crowds which always leads rhem else- 
e, higher, further, to new experiences and virgin spaces, exclusively 

r firstly theirs, and also by rhe sense of rhe legitimacy of practices, which 

'unction of their distributional value, of course, but also of the 

disc^ r0 w hich they lend themselves to acstheticizarion, in practice or 


5 p features which appeal to the dominant tasre are combined in 

(espcc ^ 3S ^°^ 1 tcnn ' s » sailing, riding (or show-jumping), skiing 
Pra Cr ia y * rs most distinctive forms, such as cross-country) or fencing. 
alone >n Cxc ^ uslvC places (private clubs), at the time one chooses, 
llv e A ■*!* chosen partners (features which contrasr with the collec- 
^n**nd P ne ' obligatoiy rhythms and imposed efforts of team sports), 
"erir,^ l n ^ a rclac ' v ely lo w physical exertion that is in any case freely de- 
' b ur a relatively high investment — and the earlier ic is pur in, 


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tC profitable it is- -of time and learning (so that rhey are relatively 
[hf |fl fan* of variations in bodily capiral and its decline through age), 
iflfcr i v give rise to highly rirualized competitions, governed, beyond 
tfeC* L D y the unwritten laws of fair play. The sporting exchange rakes 
rft c r ^ a j r of a highly controlled social exchange, excluding all physical 
ofl ^ bal violence, al! anomic use of the body {shouting, wild gestures 
° r v . tf nc j all forms of direct contact between the opponents {who are 
f y. par 2ted by the sparial organization and various opening and clos- 
ed $ \ Or, like sailing, skiing and all the Califomian sports, they sub- 
lfl ^ jc man's solitary struggle with nature for rhe man-to-man battles of 
* fl I r sports {not to mention competitions, which are incompatible 
l*S, a lofty idea of the person). 

* Thus ic can be seen rhat economic barriers — however great they may 
h* in the C2sz of golf, skiing, sailing or even riding and tennis — ate not 
rfcient to explain the class distribution of these activities- There are 
rtorc hidden entry requirements, such as family tradition and early train- 
ing, or the obligatory manner (of dress and behaviour), and socializing 
techniques, which keep rhesc sports closed to the working class and to 
upwardly mobile individuals from the middle of upper classes and which 
maintain rhem (along with smart parlour games like chess and especially 
bridge) among the surest indicators of bourgeois pedigree. 

In contrast to belore (and, even more so, manille), bridge is a game played 
more at higher levels of the social hierarchy, most frequently imong mem- 
bcrsof the professions {IFOP, 1948). Similarly, among srudenrs of the 
$n ndes eeoles, bridge, and especially intensive playing, wirh tournaments, 
vanes very strongly by social origin. Chess (or rhe claim to play it) seems 
«*£ linked rhan bridge ro social traditions and to rhe pursuit of rhe aceu- 
mulition of social capital. This would explain why ir increases as one 
"iovcs up the social hierarchy, but chiefly towards the area of social space 
defined by str0 ng cultural capital (C.S. VII). 

T" 5 simple f^ct that, ar different times, albeit wirh a change in mean- 
n 8 and function, the same pracrices have been able to artract arisrocratic 
popular devotees, or, at the same rime, to assume different meanings 

2^, *JVWltt>, Wll *»* "■*• J»""V ijiiis., vv -_,.»-..... «•«*%.»%.»» invBimigj 

•onns for rhe different groups, should warn us against rhe tempta- 
fh c , n y ir *g to explain the class distribution of sports purely in terms of 
BaL. - of the various activities. Even if the logic of distinction is suf- 
&Ois acc ouni for the basic opposition between popular and bour- 
8 r °Ubs j S ' tnc ^ acr rcma ' ns thar tnc relationships between rhe different 
ralc^j 2 an rnc different pracrices cannot be fully undersrood unless one 
a1 l2Cc j Counr of rbe objective potentialities of the different institurion- 
^ lic °ura CC,Ccs ' f bat is, the social uses which these practices encourage, 
' n ^dj St 'f 0r exclude borh by their intrinsic logic and by their positional 
urional value. We can hypothesize as a general law that a sport 

is more likely to be adopted by a social class if it docs not contrad' 
class's relation to the body at its deepest and most ur.conscious l-v ! r ^ 
the body schema, which is the depositoiy of a whole world view '<. 
whole philosophy of the person and the body, lr, d a. 

Thus a sport is in a sense predisposed for bourgeois use when rk 
of the body it requites in no way offends the sense of the high di» - C ^ 
the person, which rules out, for example, flinging the body j* ^°^ 
rough and tumble of 'forward-game' rugby or the demeanino 
petitions of athletics. Ever concerned to impose the indisputable ^^ 
of his own authority, his dignity or his distinction, the bon !? 
treats his body as an end, makes his body a sign of its own ca5e ?° u 
is thus foregrounded, and the most typically bourgeois deport 
can be recognized by a certain breadth of gesture, posture and Cm 
which manifests by the amount of physical space that is occupied k' 
place occupied in social space; and above all by a restrained, measured 
selfassured rempo. This slow pace, contrasting with workine<| 
haste or petit-bourgeois eagerness, also characterizes bourgeois tpc^ 
where it similarly asserts awareness of the right to take one's time— and 
other people's. 

The affinity between the potentialities objectively inscribed in practices 
and dispositions is seen most clearly of all in flying, and especially mili- 
tary aviation. The individual exploits and chivalrous ethic of the Prussian 
aristocrats and French nobles who joined the Air Force from cavalry 
school (everything that La Grande Illusion evokes) are implied in the 
veiy activity of flying which, as all the metaphors of skimming and high 
flying suggest, are associated {per ardua ad astro) with elevated society 
and high-mindedness, 'a certain sense of altitude combining with the life 
of the spirit', as Proust says apropos of Stendhal.* The whole opposition 
between a bellicose, jingoistic bourgeoisie, which identified the virtues of 
leadership with the gallant, risk-taking, sriffupper-lipped man of action. 
and a frec-rrading, multinational bourgeoisie which derives Its po*^ r 
from irs decision-making, organizational (in a word, cybernecic) cap* ' 
ties is contained in the opposition between the horse-riding, fencing- 
boxing or flying aristocrats and bourgeois of the Belle Epoque an£ ^ 
modern skiing, sailing or gliding executive. 

And just as a history of the sporting practices of the dominant Cj 
would no doubt shed light on the evolution of its ethical dispo* 11 ' ' 
the bourgeois conception of the human ideal and in particular the 
of reconciliation between the bodily virtues and the supposedly J 
feminine intellectual virtues, so too an analysis of the distribution" f 
given moment of sporting activities among the fractions of the ^ 
nant class would bring to light some of the most hidden principle . $ 
opposition between these fractions, such as the deep-rooted, uncon j 
conception of the relationship between the sexual division of iabof ^ 
the division of the work of domination. This is perhaps truer th* 

! the gentle, invisible education by exercise and diet which is ap- 

fl°* r ' c to the new morality of health is tending to take the place of the 

pft?P rl . ethical pedagogy of the past in shaping bodies and minds- Be* 

t<? J c different principles of division which structure rhe dominant 

* aU5C never entirely independent — such as the oppositions between 

C ' 2S * nomically riches! and the culturally richest, between inheritors 

tbt c ncn us, old and young (or seniors and juniors) — the practices 

k different fractions tend to be distributed, from the dominant 

ns to cne dominated fractions, in accordance with a series of appo- 

< C which are themselves partially reducible to each other: the opposi- 

slI,< u cr ^een the most expensive and smartest sports (golf, sailing, 

"IT a tennis) or tn e most expensive and smartest ways of doing them 

Jpr'iVa'fc dub s) anci thc cheapest sports (rambling, hiking, jogging, cy^ 

linj? mountaineering) or the cheapest ways of doing the smarr sports 

. g tennis on municipal courts or in holiday camps); the opposition 

k[*ttn the 'manly' sports, which may demand a high energy input 

(hunting, fishing, the 'contact* sports, clay pigeon shooting), and the 

'introverted* sports, emphasizing self -exploration and self -expression 

(yoga, dancing, 'physical expression') ot the 'cybernetic* sports (flying, 

sailing), requiring a high cultural input and a lelanvely low energy 


Tims, the differences which separate the teachers, the professionals and 
the employers are, as it were, summed up in the three activities which, 
though relatively rate —about \.0 percent — even in the fractions they dis- 
tinguish, appear as the distinctive feature of each of them, because they 
arc much more frequent there, at equivalent ages, than in the others 
<CS V and VII, secondary analysis)- The aristocratic asceticism of the 
teachers finds an exemplary expression in mountaineering, which, even 
"Ww than rambling, with its reserved paths (one thinks of Heidegger) 
01 cycle-touring, with its Romanesque churches, offers for minimum eco- 
nomic costs the maximum distinction, distance, height, spiritual eleva- 
^ Qn ' tnr ough the sense of simultaneously mastering one's own body and 
nature inaccessible to the many. 40 The healrh-orientcd hedonism of 
i ror sand modern executives who have the materia! and cultural means 
p tc ^ s t0 the most prestigious activities, far from vulgar crowds, is ex- 
Wa m yachting, open-sea swimming, cross country skiing or under 
f t0 ls «|ng; whereas the employers expect the same gains in distinction 
fctcit { wKh ir aristocratic etiquette, its English vocabulary and its 
tiui usive spaces, together with extrinsic profits, such as the accu- 

vr cap 

'rig ( ^ *? c . tt obviously a very important variable here- it is not surpris- 
#tr an , d, "erences in social age, nor only between the biologically youn- 
gs be in identical social positions, but also, at identical biological 
ihe estahr** C ^ C ^ om » nan t and the dominated fractions, or the new and 
isned factions, are retranslated into the opposition between the 

traditional sports and ail the new forms of the classic sports /pQ 
king, cross-country skiing, and so on), or all the new sports, f ^k. 
ported from America by members of the new bourgeoisie ar| j l fh. 
bourgeoisie, in particular by all rhe people working in fashion--^ . l < 
ers, photographers, models, advertising agents, journalists— w^o . '&)• 
and marker a new form of poor-man's elitism, close to the ceacherv^ 
sion bur more ostentariously unconventional v *r- 

The true nature of this counter-culture, which in fact reactivates all 
traditions of the typically cultivated cults of the natural, the pure and 
authentic, is more clearly revealed in the equipment which one of 
new property-rooms of the advanced life-style— the FNAC ('cxecu 
retail' shops), Beaubourg, Le Ncuvei Obxrvaieur, holiday clubs e ^ 
offers the serious trekker parkas, plus-fours, authentic Jacquard swear^ 
in real Shetland wool, genuine pullovers in pure natural wool, Canad » 
trappers' jackets, English fishermen's puiloveis, U.S. Army raincoat 
Swedish lumberjack shirts, farigue pants, US, work shoes, rangers [* 
dian moccasins in supple leather, Irish wotk caps, Norwegian woolU, 
caps, bush hats — not forgetting rhe whistles, altimeters, pedometers trail 
guides, Nikons and orhet essential gadgets without which rhere can be 
no narural rerurn to nature. And how could one fail to recognize the dy- 
namics of the dream of social weightlessness as the basis of all the new 
sporting activities— foot-trekking, pony-trekking, cycle-trekking, motor- 
bike trekking, boat-trekking, canoeing, archery, windsurfing, crosscoun- 
tiy skiing, sailing, hang-gliding, microlights etc. — whose common fea- 
ture is rhar rhey ail demand a high investment of cultural capital in the 
activity itself, in preparing, maintaining and using the equipment, and 
especially, perhaps, in verbalizing rhe experiences, and which bear some- 
thing of the same relation to the luxury sports of rhe professionals and 
executives as symbolic possession to material possession of the work of 

In the opposition between the classical sports and rhe CaJifornian 
sports, two contrasting relarions to rhe social world are expressed, as 
clearliy as they are in literacy or rhcarrical tastes On the one hand, there's 
respect for forms and for forms of respect, manifested in concern for p^* 
pricty and ritual and in unashamed flaunting of wealth and luxury- *** 
on the other, symbolic subversion of the riruals of bourgeois order by 
tentatious poverty, which makes a virtue of necessity, casualness to** 1 " 
forms and impatience with constraints, which is first matked in clot"' fj 
or cosmetics since casual clothes and long hair — like the min ' DU 
camping-car, or folk and rock, in other fields — are challenges to the 
dard arrributes of bourgeois riruals, classically sryled clothes, luxury 
boulevard theatre and opera. And this opposition between two ^ ^j 
to the social world is perfecrly reflected i n the two relations to the n u^f, 
worlld, on rhe one hand the taste for natural, wild nature, on the 
organized, signposted, cultivated nature. 



Tht . Catalogue of New 
s? ortiog Resources 

%c is dcep'y ,mbucd wlrh rhc 
* t ^,ng of L'Arche, where she lived 
\ ^ n years Lanza del Vasro has 
Written of her; 'Her art is not just 

her kgs, ir bas matured For a 
[ong in her head and heart , . 
,f I bring her our from time to 

rime k' s 50 rtm tnis P rerdQUS art » 
inspired by Hindu dance as much as 
by mediaeval Christian imagery, 
should not he lost.' 

The approaches to the inner life 
a* made through activities through- 
out rhe day's session, and are subse- 
quently pursued in life; indeed, the 
search for inner unity is the cenrral 
theme Dance has rhe place of hon- 
our, be it folk, religious or crearive 
dance It is not a goal in itself, bur 
2 supporr for the inner life. Tech- 
nique is worked on, certainly, bur 
never at rhe expense of the relaxa- 
tion ihar is cssennal for rhe har- 
m ^Y of rhe self, 

Wmm disown ihir bodies 

of bT° mca dancc ,s abovc a " a wa y 

^ ! fining aware of their bodies, 

er/ a 1 rh<i scnsc ' ' l is a &e| f- discov - 
^ Ava fencss c tj body lS 50mc . 

t h t . * Cc °mpamed by awareness of 
txftr. as a particular means of 
^ttsion Women experience 

^'dwh* nCW lan S ua S e Through 
st|v Cs e y can express rhem- 
of rt^ ' Moreover, for around half 
*trn s "? terviCw ces, this activity 
C '^. cv awaiccn a primary croci- 
^JghTcTi* P r ' mar y aut o*ctOcicism; 
^d\- it n * d consciousness of rhe 

i is 

extcr.^^j « „ „|, 

'That's when I feel 1 have a 
body. ... 1 think that dancing can 
give me harmony with myself. . . .' 
'A search for myself, discovering 
myself physically. . . .* 'Sensations 
running through my body , . , a way 
of ralking, you can say a lot! v it's a 
self-affirmation . . .' 'I M good 
when dancing. I become aware of 
myself, Once, 1 stopped for two 
years; there was something miss- 
ing. . . . It's a need,' 


Four girls, turn guys, a hired horse, 
a second-hand cart and a hike 

We starred out from La Charite-sur 
I,oire in the Nievre, with no precise 
destination In rhe course o( a 
month we did 300 kilometres to 
Monraigur-en-Combraille (Puy*de- 
Dome), along the minor roads of 
the Bourbonnais. Average speed 3 
kilometres an hour (the hors 
didn't fee) like going any faster). 
Fifteen or 20 kilometres a day. Be- 
cause we were jusr ambling along 
we had time to do all sorts of 
things you can't do in a car: black- 
berrying, cycling, talking to the 
locals, climbing up on the cart, 
bathing, making love. . . . Aftet a 
few days, we*d completely lost the 
sense of time (the time of the rat 

Free flight 

A hang-glider is a sail srrerched be 
tween aluminum tubes, a big kite 
without a string bur with a bloke 
hanging in a harness; you rake ir 
somewhere high, jump off", and 

You Starr with little hills, grassy 
slopes, sand-plrs, just a few yards 
above the ground. Geographically 
speaking, you can do ir anywhere; 


1-h.A TXifft-n^rtF •>* ■ V>„ \f— 1 

ztA / itx economy o] Practices 

from rhe slag-heaps and cliffs of the 
Nord ro rhe Jura and the Alps, nor 
forgetting the Puy-deJDomc. 


To think there are people who don't 
know chat you only have to leave 
the claustrophobic world of the 
metro at Porte de Saint-Cloud to 
find yourself on the route of Na- 
tional Trail No. I!!! Yes indeed!!! 
Sounds like the blurred breakfast- 
time account of ? dream? And yet 
it's true: at the end of the Avenue 
de Versailles, there's rhe start of 565 
kilometres, no less, of footpaths, 



Groovy football 

Alternative soccer is on the up-and- 
up. Spontaneity is the word: no 
clubs, no championships, often no 
grounds. The traditional team col* 
ours give way to multi-coloured tee 
shirrs, even Indian shirts. Nor many 
shorts ro be seen, but lots of jeans. 
Heavy boots with studs and laces all 
over them are rare in the extreme, 
and when they do appear a crowd 
gathers co gawk at them before the 
match. Sneakers and desert boors arc 
more like it. 

The number of players is very 
variable and rarely reaches the sym- 
bolic eleven. The players aren't even 
always men and I can remember 
some marches in the winter mud of 
the Pare de Sceaux in which each 
team included three or four girls 
whose high heels made their mark 
on a few ankles and shins, and nor 
just rheir opponents*! 

They were epic struggles, with 
two or three inrervals, during which 
the least out of breath would have a 
quick joinr or two. A typical score 
would be 32-28. 

Age is pretty variable, roo . 
caregories like kiddies, junio rs 
minors, seniors, veterans. AndY. 
of eleven or twelve are the so 
mosquitoes you can't easily s k J* 
off*. ™ 

Naturally, the rules are liberal 
interpreted. Besides, most of rk ' 
time there's no referee. The ofe- j 
rule only applies in cases of fcjZ* 
violation (for example, when a 
player hangs around the oppo$j, e 
goal throughout the match 

W cast! 
pass comes his way). There are no 

touch-lines, so the pitches are often 

wider than they're long! Corners Jrc 

taken, because they're a real gas. 

The reams expand during the match 

as more players arrive. 

Competitiveness isn't entirely 
ruled out, bur we're a long way 
from the fanaticism of pro' teams. 
I n fact the people who come along 
to kick the ball aren't out there to 
win at all costs, given chat there are 
no prizes, it's rarely the same teams, 
the length of the match is very elas- 
tic, and the scoring is very approxi- 
mate (to within a goal or two). 
And when one team is obviously 
stronger, you balance it out by 
'transfer riing' players between rhe 
two teams . . . It's a far ciy from 
the gamesmanship they teach you 
most of the time at school 

What's the answer? Perhaps it 
comes from games masters like '"* 
one who gave each player a ball so 
there would be no competitive V 
(a true sioty — the teacher in <1 ucS ' 
rion even got into trouble for not 
observing rhe usual rule). ^ 

Next weekend, if you see a cO*f£ 
of gangs of hairy louts chasing 
a ball, don't hesitate, jusr ask if r* 
can join in. They won't eat you 

' (Pin* 

Extracts from Catekgue dts rniourcti \ j 

Ubf aides Alternative jnd Parallel* 5 ' 



the system of the sporting activities and entertainments that 
Th u *' mS elves ac a given moment for rhe potential 'consumers' to 
D rfc r ( r m i s predisposed to exp ess all the differences sociologically 
cb° nt at that moment: oppositions between the sexes, between the 
pc^ 111 j beT^een class fractions. The agents only have to follow the 
rf* , -sof rheir habitus in order to takeover, unwittingly, the intention 
Ic3 fll t i n the corresponding practices, ro find an activity which is en- 
irt nnan ^, ^^j w - ( j i -^ kj nc | fe d S pj r its. The same is true in all areas of 

|,f ■--. each consumer is confronted by a particular state of the supply 
?*** hat j S( with objectified possibilities (goods, servic , patterns of ac- 
4 ! \ f he appropriation of which is one of the stakes in rhe struggles 

^ recti the classes, and which, because of their probable association 
r h certain classes or class fractions, are automatically classified and clas- 
fotng rank-ordered and rank-ordering. The observed srate of the distri- 
bution of goods and practices is thus defined ill the meeting between 
rhe possibilities offered at a given momenr by the different fields of 
production (past and present) and the socially differentiated dispositions 
which~associatcd with the capital (of determinate volume and composi 
tion) of which, depending on the rra/ecroty, they are more or less com- 
pletely rhe product and in which they find their means of 
realization-define the interest in these possibilities, chat is, the propen- 
sity to acquire them and (through acquisition) ro convert rhem into dis- 
tinctive signs. 

Thus, a srudy of rhe toy market undertaken along these lines would first 
have to establish the specific structuring principles of a field of production 
in which, as in other such fields, there coexist firms differing in *age' (from 
small workshops producing wooden toys to large modern companies), in 
volume (turnover, number of employees) and, perhaps especially, in the ex* 
**nt to which production is guided by psychological as well as technoJogi- 

research. Secondly, on the basis of an analysis of the conditions in which 

MrTT^" arC mac ' c ' anc * ' n particular of the degree (probably varying 

fCK ^ ro wn kh they ate linked to traditional, seasonal, gifr exchanges 

tton stma ^ Net* Year), one could try to determine rhe meaning and func- 

ac j. rnc different classes consciously or unconsciously confer on toys 

r ing ro r k cjr Qwn sc h cmw f perception and appreciation and, more 
t ^ '?' according to their educational strategics. (The latter m turn have 
prop- n m rerms of rheir whole system of reproduction strategies: rhe 
the A? l ° conr ^ r an educational function on toys no doubt rises with 
On t & ** f0 which the reproduction of social position depends exclusively 
'n % ^ miSs ^ on of cultural capital, i.e., with the weight of cultural capital 
of tric Sct structure.) It would also be necessary to examine how the logic 
s <r C ng.L m ^ c ' r ' on between firms of different types, having different 
^cicJm l therefore inclined to defend different products, is in a sense 
^s c .£*"* different categories of clients. Craft firms may get a new 
l "C when wooden toys encounter the taste for natural materials 

JJ4 / Iht tconomy oj t J ract/ca 

and simple shapes among rhe intellectual fracrions, who are also atr 
hy all forms of logical games which are supposed to "awaken* and *j Cte d 
the intelligence; and rhe cultural-capita I in tensive firms benefit not q P" 
from the intensified competition for educational qualifications and t , f 
eral nse in educational investments, bur also from rhe unsolicited ad*^ 
ing given to products which suit their taste by those who present ($»»£* 
own life-style as an example to others and elevate the inclinations of * 
own ethos inro a universal ethic. The producers of cultural toys, W ^ Q r tlr 
every interesr in 'de-seasonalizing* their sales by creating a continuous 
for their products, can count on the proselytism of all those who are \ 
clined to believe and persuade orhers to believe in the (stricrly unverjfi ki 
educational value of toys and play — psychologists, psychoanalyses, nursr 
reachers, 'toy bank' organizers, and everyone else with a stake in a fafaL 
tion of childhood capable of producing a market for goods and services 
aimed at children. 12 

There is no clearer indication of (he existence, in all areas, of a legmn 
and a definition of legitimate practice than rhe careless, but socially corr 
orated, assurance with which the new taste-makers measure all practices 
againsr the yardstick of their own tasce, rhe acid test of modernity (as o 
posed to all rhat is archaic, rigid, old-fashioned). The naivety of some Q f 
the comments emhroidering the statistics on consumption rhey produce 
the purposes of marketing reveals, for example, thar they classify all eating 
habits in terms of rheir distance from the American ideal of eggs and ba 
for breakfast or a light lunch washed down with mineral water, just as 
others adjudicare what is 'in' in politics or the latest 'must* in philosophical 
fashion in terms of what is (or is nor) being done at Haivard, Princctoaor 

It follows that ir is only by increasing the number of empirical analyse 
of rhe relations between relatively autonomous fields of production °' 
a particular class of products and the market of consumers which the* 
assemble, and which sometimes function as fields (without ceasing 
to be determined by their position in rhe field of the social classes,'^ 
that one can really escape from the abstraction of economic theonc*. 
which only recognize a consumer reduced Co his purchasing power [\ 
self reduced to his income) and a product characterized, equally abstrtcO' 
by a technical f uncrion presumed to be equal for all; only in this way 
it possible to establish a genuine scientific theory of rhe economy orp 1 * 

The abstract notion of the -labour marker' requires a similar critique: w . 
would describe both rhe invariants and the variations in the reJationsn«P 
tween the owner of rhe means of production — and therefore of 'f^ s 
rhe seller of labour power, according to rhe power relations between *** 
two parties. These depend, among other things, on rhe rarity of the Pr^. 
and the material and symbolic advantages ir gives and on rhe ranry ° ^ 
labour power supplied or of rhe qualifications which guarantee if. m 

n the degree to which rhe job supplier can wjchstand individual or 
^ot^' ^jfhdrawaJ of labour power (refusal of the job, a strike etc.) and 
t^'^ 1 ' nt to wh'^h rhe possessor of labour power is able to refuse the job 
r iiC c<f jj n o, for example, on his qualifications, age and family responsibil- 
|Jtr^.| c he unmarried young being least vulnerable). 


T^e Dynamics 
of t^e Fief as 

There are thus as many fields of preferences as there are fields of stylistic^ 
possibles. Each of these worilds — drinks (mineral warers, wines and aperi- 
tifs) or automobiles, newspapers or holiday resorts, design or furnishing 
of house or garden, not to mention political programmes — provides the 
small number of distinctive features which, functioning as a system of 
differences, din* crential deviations, allow the most fundamental social dif- 
ferences to be expressed almost as completely as thr ugh the most com- 
plex and refined expressive systems available in the legitimate arts; andit 
can be seen that the total field of these fields offers well-nigh inexhaust- 
ible possibilities for the pursuit of distinction. 

If, among all these fields of p ssibles, none is more obviously pred 1 * 
posed to express social differences than the world of luxury goods, and, 
more particularly, cultural goods, this is because the relationship of dis- 
rincrion is objectively inscribed w(thm it, and is reactivated, intentional 
or not, in each act of consumption, through the instruments or cC 
nomic and cultural appropriation which it requires. It is not only a n* 
ter of the affirmations of difference which writers and artists profess 
more insistently as the autonomy of the field of cultural production 
comes more pronounced, 1 but also of the intention immanent in eul 
objects. One could point to the socially charged nature of legitimate^ 
guage and, for example, the systems of ethical and aesthetic values dCr TJg 
iced, ready for quasi-automatic reactivation, in pairs of contra* 
adjectives; or the very logic of literary language, whose whole vaiu ^ 
in an tcart, i.e., a distance from simple, common ways of speaking^ ^ 
torical figures, as modifications of ordinary usage, are in a sense the 

im uynamm vj we 1 ««« / **t 

: ns of the social relationship in which they arc produced and 
J cC -/in * n< ^ iZ * s ^ ut ^ e to sct -k* ^ n tne intrinsic nature of the tropes cat- 
^ uflCt -j in the 'Arts of Rhetoric*, properties which, like all properties of 
^o$P . exist only in and through the relationship, in and through 
S sn t A figure of words or style is always only an alteration of usage, 

i ^gently a distinctive mark which may consist in the absence of 

*" r b when the intention of distinguishing oneself from a would-be 

lfiV rtion tnar ' s ^ c '^ ro ^ * cxccss ' vc ( tnc vulgarity of 'pretension') or 

u 'worn out* or 'outmoded' leads ro the double negations which 

Sl A lie so many Spurious encounters between the opposite exrremes of 

U " I space ' c ls wc ^ known that all dominant aesthetics set a high value 

r he virri** of sobriety, simplicity, economy of means, which areas 

-h op^ ^ ro frsc-degrce poverty and simplicity as to the p mposity 

ot affecta'non of the 'half-educated'. 

] t ^ ^arcely necessary to establish that the work of art is the objeenfi- 
cation of* relationship of distinction and that it is thereby explicitly pre- 
dispose*! to bear such a relationship in the most varied contexts. As soon 
js arc becomes self-conscious, in the work of Alberti, for example, as 
Gombrich demonstrates, it is defined by a negation, a refusal, a renuncia- 
tion, which is the very basis of the refinement in which a distance is 
marked from the simple pleasure of the senses and the superficial seduc- 
tions of gold and ornaments that ensnare the vulgar taste of the Philis- 
tines: 'In the strict hicr rchic society of the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries the contrast between the "vulgar" and the "noble" becomes 
one of the principal pre ccupations of the critics. . , . Their belief was 
that certain forms or modes are "really" vulgar, because they please the 
low, while others arc inherently noble, because only a developed taste can 
appreciate rhem.^ The aim of distinction, expressing the specific interest 
°' the artists, who are increasingly inclined ro claim exclusive control 
o v et form at the risk of disappointing their clients* 'bad taste 1 , is far from 
incompatible with the functions real])/ conferred on works of art by th se 
*ho commission them or conserve them in their collections: these 'cul- 
tural creations which we usually regard purely aestherically, as variants of 

P a «icular sryle, were perceived by their contemporaries', as Norberr 
h ii rcm ' n ^ s us ' referring ro the society of rhe Grand Siecle, as *fhe 

1v ^^"tiaced expression of certain social qualities/ 3 

"IS mt*^r\e .1 m J/" IL ^s /t A _- :_ - _ 


,s means that, like art as defined by Yeats ('An is a social act of a 

men man ^ Cvcr y appropriation of a work of art which is the embod 
t nc .J a relation of distinction is itself a s cial relation and, contrary to 
*ho J'° n °f cultural communism, it is a relation of distinction. Th se 
rti 0:c \~ ess the means of symbolically appropriating cultural g ds are 
iiCny billing to believe that ir is only through their economic di 
they ?? t * lat works of art, and cultural goods in general, acquire rarity. 
'heir t0 SCc symbolic appropriation — the only legitimate sort, in 

— 3s a kind of mystical participation in a common good of 

which each person has a share and which everyone has entirely, as a B 
doxical appropriation, excluding privilege and monopoly, unlike jL |* 
rial appropriation, which asserts real exclusivity and therefore excluy 
*If I contemplate a painting by Poussin or read a Platonic dialog ue , n 
doesn'r imply rhat I am depriving anyone and that we need to produc *' 
many Poussins and Platos as there are possible beholders or readers' (p» 
losophy teacher, age 30). 

The love of art is conceived as a secularized form of the 'intel| ect . 
love of God', a love, according to Spinoza, that is 'the greater as mrw 
men enjoy it.' There is no doubt that the works of art inherited fro m t i^ 
past and deposited in museums and private collections and, beyond 
them, alt objectified cultural capital, the product of history acCumul aiC J 
in the form of books, articles, documents, instruments, which are the 
trace or materialization of theories or critiques of these theories, problenu 
atics or conceptual systems, present themselves as an autonomous world 
which, although it is the product of historical action, has its own lawi 
transcending individual wills, and remains irreducible ro what each agent 
or even the whole population of agents can appropriate (i.e., to interna- 
lized cultural capital), just as the language objectified in dictionaries and 
grammars remains irreducible to the language really appropriated, that is, 
to what is internalized by each speaker or even the whole population 
However, contrary to theories of the autonomy of rhe world of ideas Qt 
of 'objective knowledge without a knowing subject' and 'subjectless pro- 
cesses' (in which Louis Althusser and Karl Popper concur), it has to be 
pointed out that objectified cultural capital only exists and subsists in 
and through the struggles of which the fields of cultural production (the 
artistic field, the scientific field etc.) and, beyond them, the field of the 
social classes, are the site, struggles in which the agents wield strengths 
and obtain profits proportionate to their mastery of this objectified capi- 
ral, in other words, their internalized capital. 

Because the appropriation of cultural products presupposes disposi- 
tions and competences which are nor distributed universally (although 
rhey have the appearance of innateness), these products are subject to e* 
elusive appropriation, material or symbolic, and, functioning as cultural 
capital (objectified or internalized), they yield a profit in distin ai0n ' 
proportionate ro the rarity of the means required to appropriate &c 
and a profit in legitimacy, the profit par excellence, which consists in c 
fact of feeling justified in being (what one is), being what it is "8 . 
be 5 This is the difference between the legitimate culrure of class sod*? * 
a product of domination predisposed ro express or legitimate Q&^ 
rion, and the culture of lirrle-differenriated or undifferentiated soctf 
in which access to the means of appropriation of the cultural hcf ' c ?^ a |j 
fairly equally distributed, so thar culture is fairly equally mastered *v jfl 
members of the group and cannot function as cultural capital, lC -» . (h 
instrument of domination, or only so within very narrow limits anci 
a very high degree of cuphemization. 


The Dynamics of the Fields / 229 

y f nbolic profit arising from material or symbolic appropriation of 
b of art is measured by the distinctive value which the work derives 

* f hc rariry of the disposition and comperence which it demands and 
' r ° h de<e rm ' ncs ' ts c ^ ass distribution/' Cultural objects, with rheir sub- 
*' T ' cr3irc hy, are predisposed to mark the stages and degrees of the mitia^ 
** f0 oress which defines the enreiprfse of culture, according ro Valery 
10 M ud. Like 'Christian's progress towards the heavenly Jerusalem', it 

j, from the 'illiterate' to the literate', via the 'non.literare' and 'semi- 

lc \ or the 'common reader' (lecU&r) — leaving aside the 'btblio- 

h'k'— *° tnc tru '^ cult > vatc d reader (theur). The mysteries of culture 

f [f^ir catechumens, their initiates, their holy men, that 'discrete 

lite' set apart from ordinary mo rials by inimitable nuances of manner 

j united by '* quality, something which lies in the man himself, which 
s part of his happiness, which may be mdirecrly very useful to him but 
which will never win him a sou, any more rhan his courtesy, his courage 
ot his goodness,' 

Hence the incessant revisions, ^interpretations and rediscoveries 
which the learned of all religions of the book perform on rheir canonical 
texts: since the levels of 'reading' designate hierarchies of readers, it is 
necessary and sufficient to change the hierarchy of readings in order to 
overturn the hierarchy of readers. 

It follows from what has been said thar a simple upward displacement 
of the structure of the class distribution of an asset or practice (i.e., a vir- 
tually identical increase in the proportion of possessors in each class) has 
the effect of diminishing its rarity and distinctive value and threarening 
tte distinction of the older possessors. Intellectuals and artists are rhus 
divided between rheir interesr in cultural proselytism, rhat is, winning a 
market by widening their audience, which inclines them to favour popu- 
larization, and concern for cultural distinction, the only objective basis of 
ttieir rarity; and their relationship to everything concerned with the *de- 
^tttizatlon of culture' is marked by a deep ambivalence which may be 
mari "esred in a dual discourse on rhe relations between the institutions 
01 cultural diffusion and the public. 


^ i " a " ce Q 'n a survey how they thought works of art in museums might 
kccs k| P rCscfltt d, and whether the 'supply level' ought ro be made more 
bcrs S V ; y providing technical, historical or aesthetic explanations, mem* 
p idea dominant class — and especially che reaehers and art specialists— 
for . w escape from the contradiction by dissociating what is desirable 
is i S lt Crs f rom *hae is desirable for themselves. Ir is because the museum 
^ like i, ' r 1S r CxC ' us * Vc p" v 'lcge: so it is as it should be for peo- 
ro the f m ' lc • people made for ir. But they cannot fail to be sensitive 
s tattld k Ct : ^ ai ^y* tnc naDUlJ es, are being consulted first about what 
r ^i r priv j^° nC ' ^ ccausc tn ' s recognizes their privilege of granting part of 
^Swtifc l ? C t0 otntrs - In accepting educational improvements, it is their 
' c he one chat they alone can enjoy, austere, ascetic acid noble. 

2i0 / The Economy of Practices 

which they graciously open ro others. (An analysis of the debate* ^. 
curred when cheap paperbacks came onto the market—a promise ofp Q )oc - 
larity for the author, a threar of vulgarization for the reader— wo u y r ^ 
the same ambivalence). **l 

Because the distinctive power of cultural possessions or practices 
artifact, a qualification, a film culture — tends to decline with the crn* 11 
in the absolute number of people able to appropriate them, the profi 
distincrion would wither away if the field of producrion of cult 
goods, itself governed by the dialectic of pretension and distinction a*j 
not endlessly supply new goods or new ways of using the same gooj 

The Correspondence between Goods Production 
and Taste Production 

In the cultural market --and no doubt elsewhere — the matching of sup. 
ply and demand is neither the simple effect of production imposing irsrlf 
on consumption nor the effect of a conscious endeavour to serve the con- 
sumers' needs, but the result of the objective orchestration of two tela- 
tively independent logics, that of the fields of producrion and that of the 
field of consumption. There is a fairly dose homology between the spe- 
cialized fields of production in which products are developed and the 
fields (the field of the social classes or the field of the dominant class) in 
which tastes are determined. This means that the producrs developed in 
the competitive struggles of which each of the fields of production is the 
site, and which are the source of the incessant changing of these prod- 
ucts, meer, without having expressly to seek it, the demand which is 
shaped in the objectively or subjectively antagonistic relations between 
the different classes or class fractions over material or cultural consume* 
goods or, mote exacrly, in the competitive struggles between them over 
these goods, which are the source of the changing of tastes. This objec- 
rive orchestration of supply and demand is rhe reason why the most var- 
ied tastes find the conditions for their realization in the universe ° 
possibles which each of rhe fields of production offers them, while t 
latter find the conditions for their constitution and functioning ™ f . 
different tastes which provide a (short- or long-term) market for c 
different products. 8 ,j 

The field of production, which clearly could not f uncrion if tt c 
not count on already existing tastes, more or less sttong propensity i 
consume more or less clearly defined goods, enables taste ro be rcaii 2 ^ j 
offering it, at each moment, rhe universe of culrural goods as a *f*jj*\~La 
stylistic possibles from which it can select the system of stylistic ^ a ^J. 
constituting a life-style. It is always forgotten that the universe Y & 
ucts offered by each field of production tends in race to limit the un ^ 
of the forms of experience (aesthetic, ethical, political etc) that a 

The Dynamics of the Fidck / 251 

p0 ssiblc at any given moment 9 It follows from this, among 
jci*' vC ; j n gs. T ^ af r ^ e distinction recognized in all dominant classes and 
iith«" r - r peoperties takes different forms depending on the state of the 
in *■ Vc s j^ns of 'class' thar are effectively available. In the case of the 
disr^ 1 r(on of cultural goods at least, the relation between supply and 
9*° J takes a particular form: the supply always exerts an effect of sym- 
^r pQSition, A cultural product — an avant garde picture, a polirical 
C -.c sr0 . a newspaper — is a constituted taste» a taste which has been 
113 i r^m the vague semi-existence of half- formulated or unformulated 
r *.Lrriencc. implicit or even unconscious desire, to the full reality of the 
? hed product, by a process of object iiication which, in present cir- 
stan ces, is almost always the work of prof essionals. It is consequently 
hirecd with the legitimizing, reinforcing capacity which objecrifieation 
ilwivs possesses, especially when, as is the case now, the logic of srruc- 
rUrJ | homologies assigns it to a prestigious group so that it functions as 
a n authority which authorizes and reinforces dispositions by giving rhem 
i collectively recognized expression. • Taste, for its part, a classification 
system constituted by the conditionings associated with a condition situ- 
ated in a determinate position in the structure of different conditions, 
governs the relationship with objectified capital, with this world of 
ranked and ranking objects which help to define u by enabling ir to spec- 
ify and so realize itself. 1 

Thus the tastes actually realized depend on the state of rhe system of 
goods offered; every change in the system of goods induces a change in 
tajfes. But conversely, every change in tastes resulting ftom a transforma- 
tion of rhe conditions of existence and of the corresponding dispositions 
wilt tend to induce, directly or indirectly, a transformation of the field of 
production, by favouring the success, within the struggle constituting 
the field, of the producers best able to produce the needs corresponding 
to the new dispositions. There is therefore no need to resort to the hy- 
pothesis of a sovereign taste compelling the adjustment of production to 
. s or the opposire hypothesis, in which rasre is itself a product of pro 

uc«on ( , n orc j er [0 accoum [" or the quasi-miraculous correspondence 
n failing at every moment between the products offered by a field of 
led L UC|lon an d the field of socially produced tastes. The producers are 
V the logic of comperition with other producers and by the specific 
Ij , e s linked to their position in the field of production (and therefore 
p , e n *bitus which have led them to that position) to produce disrinct 
tw !? wr " c h meet rhe different cultural interests which the consumers 

Poasjk-i- c * ass conditions and position^ thereby offering them a real 
f 0r U V of being satisfied In short, if, as they say, There is something 
and bh?° nC ' ^ eac ^ faction of the dominant class has its own artists 
fpn 0( . ' ° s °phets, newspapers and critics, just as it has its hairdresser, in- 
"ng , dCc °rator or tailor, or if, as an artist put it, 'Everyone sells', mean- 
at pai'i lings of the most varied styles always eventually find a 

232 / The Economy of Practices 

purchaser, rhis is nor rhe resulr of intentional design but of the ^w 
between rwo systems of differences. l \ 

The functional and structural homology which guarantees ^. 
orchestration between the logic of the field of production and t k e 5 tlv t 
of the field of consumption arises from the fact that all the ^ - °&t 
fields (haute couture or painting, thearre or literature) rend \q \^ l ^ 
erned by rhe same logic, i.e., according to the volume of the specific 
tal that is possessed (and according to seniority of possession, wh ?* 
often associated with volume), and from the fact that rhe opposk ? 
which tend to be established in each case between the richer and the t^ 
rich in the specific capital — rhe established and the outsiders, Vetera 
and newcomers* distinction and pretension, rear-guard and avanr&aivU 
order and movement ere. — are mutually homologous (which means th 
rhere are numerous invariants) and also homologous to the opposing 
which structure rhe field of the social classes (between dominant and 
dominated) and the field of rhe dominant class (between the dominan 
fraction and the dominated fraction).'* The correspondence which k 
thereby objectively established between the classes of products and The 
classes of consumers is realized in acts of consumption only through the 
mediation of that sense of the homology between goods and groups 
which defines tastes Choosing according to one's rasres is a matter of 
identifying goods that are objectively attuned to one's position and 
which 'go together' because they are situated in roughly equivalent posi- 
tions in their respective spaces, be they films or plays, cartoons or novels, 
clothes or furnirure; rhis choice is assisted by institutions — shops, the- 
atres (left- or right-bank), critics, newspapers, magazines — which ** 
themselves defined by their position in a field and which are chosen W 
the same principles. 

For the dominanr class, the relationship between supply and demand 
takes rhe form of a pre-established harmony. The competition for luxn* 
goods, emblems of *class', is one dimension of the struggle to impose the 
dominant principle of domination, of which rhis class is the site; and the 
scraregies it calls for, whose common feature is that they are oriented to- 
wards maximizing the distinctive profit of exclusive possessions, ftius 
necessarily use different weapons to achieve this common functio n - 
rhe supply side, the field of production need only follow its own W ■ 
that of distinction, which always leads it to be organized in accord 3 * 1 
with a structure analogous to that of the symbolic systems which ** P 
duces by its functioning and in which each element performs a ^ lStl 
rive function. 

'eh 1 
thl LOCiit OF homologies Thus, the case of fashion, which ™ X %\ 

seem to justify a model which locarcs rhe moror of changing 5 *?Lv) 

styles in rhe intentional pursuir of distinction (the 'trickle-down en . 

is 2n almost perfect example of the meeting of two spaces and t w0 

no mous histories- The endless changes in fashion result from 
(1 vc'y a , nVC orchcsirarion berween, on the one hand, the logic of the 
$& i 1 inf^nal to the field of production, which are organized in 
sfr u $> t r h c opposition old/new, itself linked, through the oppositions 

#TlS '** 1 l ft lily I j* I / 

^PjT to the opposition old/young (very important in this field, as in 
o /, an d,on rhe other hand, the logic of the struggles internal to the 

0^ s i (relatively) cheap and classical/practical (or rear guard/avant- 

s P° r f t he dominant class which, as we have seen, oppose the dominant 
a he 4o (TI » n aced fractions, or, more precisely, che established and the 
^ gets, ^ n orri er words — given the equivalence between power 
specifically, economic power) and age, which means that, at iden- 
- I biobgi C3 ' a ^ eS ' soc * a ' a g c ' s a function of proximiry to the pole of 
11 -ct and duration in rhat position — between rhose who have the social 
[Jloperries associated with accomplished adulthood and those who have 
, socia l properties associated with the incompleteness of youth. The 
outuriers who occupy a dominant position in the field of fashion only 
have to follow through rhe negative strategics of discretion and under- 
statement chat are forced on them by the aggressive competition of the 
challengers to find themselves directly arruned to the demands of the old 
bourgeoisie who are oriented towards the same refusal of emphasis by a 
homologous relation to the audacities of the new bourgeoisie; and, simi- 
larly, the newcomers to the field, young couturiers or designers endeav- 
ouring to win acceptance of their subversive ideas, are the 'objective 
allies* of the new fractions and the younger generation of the dominant 
fractions of the bourgeoisie, for whom the symbolic revolutions of which 
"csttmentary and cosmetic outrages are the paradigm, are the perfect ve* 
hide for expressing the ambiguity of their situarion as the 'poor rela- 
tions' of the temporal powers. 

Jusr as the ready-to-wear 'revolution' arose when the dispositions of a de- 
*gpei occupying a particular position in the field of fashion encountered 
'* e modern', dynamic', 'casual' life -sryle of the new bourgeoisie which 
^ ,n & the traditional functions of representation into professional life, so 
clrrtfcT* &shion Dasc ^ on rnc 'authentic' and 'genuine* (real Chinese 
£° **• real Army surplus— parkas, combat trousers, light raincoats etc. — 
\hh n fra PP crs ' jackets, Japanese martial-art kimonos, safari Jackets), 
fu] m0sr ' n boutiques sell at inflated prices to a clientele of 'beauti- 

*ucc — models, photographers, advertising agents, journalisrs — owes its 

c u | CSs \f tnc facr that it meecs the demands of the young counter- 

Kw l°£'e of the functioning of the fields of cultural-goods production, 

e *use ^vith the distinction strategies which determine their dynamics, 

%v c i r e P r °ducrs of their functioning, be they fashion designs or 

' ' [ o be predisposed to function differentially, as means of distinc- 

rion, firsr berween chc class fracrions and then between the ciass^ 
producers can be Totally invoked and absorbed in their struggle. ^ 
other producers, convinced that only specific artistic interests are at ^ 
and that they' arc otherwise t orally disinterested, while remainin 
aware of the social functions they fulfil, in the long run, for a part *"*" 
audience, and wirhour ever ceasing ro respond to the expectation* 
particular class or class fraction. * ' 

This is especially clear in the case of the rheatre r where the cotrr 
dence between several relatively autonomous spaces — rhe space ofT 1 " 
producers (playwriighrs and actors), the space of rhe critics (and t nro 
rhem the space of rhe daily and weekly press), and rhe space of rhe a |? 
ences and readerships (i.e., rhe space of the dominant class), issopcrf 
so necessary and yet so unforeseeable thar evety actor can experience k 
encounter with the object of his preference as a miracle of* predestin 


Jn the same way, it would be easy to show how much newspapers owe, 
even in an age of marker research, to the logic of competition for adver- 
tisers and fot readers. JJke political parries, newspapers must endlessly work 
to maximize their clientele, at the expense of their closest competitors in 
the field of production, through more or less disguised borrowings of 
themes, formulae and even journalists, withour losing the core readership 
which defines them and gives them their distributional value- 
Boulevard theatre, which offers tried and rested shows (adaptations of 
foreign plays, revivals of boulevard 'classics' etc.), writren ro reliable for 
mulae and performed by consecrated actors, and which caters to a mid- 
dle-aged, 'bourgeois* audience that is disposed to pay high prices, lS 
opposed in every respect ro experimental theatre, which attracrs a young. 
Intellectual' audience to [datively inexpensive shows that flour ethical 
and aesthetic conventions. This structure of rhe field of production °F? 
ares both in realiry, through the mechanisms which produce the °?P° il . 
tions between the playwrights or actors and rheir thearre, the critics in 
their newspapers, and in people's minds, in the form of a system of c 
gories shaping perception and appreciation which enable rhem to c ' a5 ~_j 
and evaluate playwrights, works, styles and subjects. Thus, critics < "* j 
pying opposed positions in the field of cultural production wl \ ^ 
plays in terms of rhe vety same oppositions which engender rhe ooi_ 
differences between them, but they will set the terms of these opp 05 ' 
in opposite hierarchies. --). 

Thus in 1973 Franchise Dorins play Le Towmant (The ** ^x 
which dramatizes a boulevard playwright's attempt to start a "^ ^d 
as an avant-garde playwright, aroused reactions which varied in . , jf 
content according to the position of the publication in which l -^p 
peared, that is, according to how distant rhe critic and his ** 

f -A the 'bourgeois* pole and consequently from Dorin*s play. They 
•$e& r m unconditional approval ro disdainful silence, via a neutcat 
&{$£ (oC <c\xt,'\cA by Le Monde), as one moves from right ro lefr, from rhe 
P° ,fU Bank f° tnc kft Bank, through rhe field of newspapers and week- 
Ri£ r rf L'Aumre to Le Nouvel Observateur, and, simultaneously, 
* ,ci * n rhe field of readership, which is irself organized in accordance 
iH r f^ repositions corresponding fairly exactly to those defining the field 
<l. cheats When confronted with an object so clearly organized in 
of the basic opposition, the critics, who are themselves distributed 
lC u c field of fhe press in accordance with the structure which shapes 
both the classified object and the classification sysrem they apply to it, re- 
duce— ' n the space of rhe judgements whereby they classify both it 
fj chenjsclve& — tnc s P ace within which they are themselves classified. 
(The whole process constitutes a perfect circle from which the only es- 
apc is to objectify it sociologically.) 

jn the play itself. Franchise Dorin sets 'bourgeons' drama (her own), 
tthich applies technical skill ro produce gaiery, lightness and wit, 'typi- 
cally French' qualities, in opposition to the 'pretentiousness' and 'bluff/ 
camouflaged under 'ostentatious starkness', the dull solemniry and drab 
<&cor, which characterize 'intellectual* drama. The series of contrasted 
properties which the righr-bank critics pick out — technical skill, joie de 
vivre, clarity, ease, lightness, optimism, as opposed ro redium, gloom, ob 
scurity, pretentiousness, heaviness and pessimism — reappears in the col- 
umns of the left-bank critics, but here the positives are negatives and vice 
versa, because the hierarchy of qualifies is reversed. 

As in a set of facing mirrors, each of the critics located at either ex- 
freme C an say exactly what the critic on the other side would say. but he 
•x^s so in conditions such that his words take on an ironic value and 
stigmanze by antiphrasis the very things that are praised by his opposing 
counterpart. Thus, the left-bank critic credirs Mme. Dorin with the quali- 
wei on which she prides herself; but when he mentions them, to his read- 
. l P> they automatically become derisory (so that her 'technique* 
^ omes l a box Q f mcks\ and 'common sense* is immediately understood 

Mmc < r? rm0US with bour S eois stupidity). In so doing, he turns against 
Wri onn the weapon she herself uses againsr avant-garde rhcatre 
&2'de , X ^ 0irjn g the structural logic of the field, she turns against avant- 
*t [ bn e * rfC f > hC wea P on " likes to use agamst 'bourgeois* chatter and 
' 0n e$oy a***** theatre which reproduces its truisms and cliches (eg,, 
Nodv S Cn P non s of The Bald Prima Donna or Jacques as 'a sort of 

^ pni° f cariCacure of boulevard theatre, boulevard theatre falling apart 
. g0tn gmaa"). & v 

**d ^, S( . c sc 'be same device is used: the critic's relationship of ethical 

^ C c °nn " 1C conuivancc wirh n * s readers supplies the leverage to break 

^ it ^^ °* mc parodied discourse with its own audience and to 

'nto a s^rjes f 'misplaced* remarks which are shocking and 

-oo / i rx Etonvmj vj rratnta 



A Sociological Test 

Moving from right to Icfr or from 

righr bank to left bank, we start 
with V Aurore: 'Cheeky Franchise 
Dorin is going ro be in hot water 
with our toffee-nosed, Marxist intelli- 
gentsia (the two things go to- 
gether) The author of Un sale 
egotstt shows no respect for the sol- 
emn boredom, profound emptiness 
and vertiginous nullity which char- 
acterize so many so-called 'avant- 
garde' theatrical productions. She 
dares to profane with sacrilegious 
laughter the notorious sl incommuni 
cability" which is rhc alpha; and 
omega of the contemporary stage. 
And this perverse reactionary, who 
flatters the lowest appetites of con- 
sumer society, far from acknowledg- 
ing the error of her ways and 
wearing her boulevard playwright's 
reputation with humility, has the 
impudence to prefer the jolliry of 
Sacha Guitiy, or Fcydeau's bedtoom 
farces, to the darkness visible of 
Matguerite Duras or Arrabal. This is 
a crime for which she will not easily 
be forgiven. Especially since she 
commits it wirh cheerfulness and 
gaiety, using all rhe dreadful devices 
which make lasring successes' (Gil- 
bert Guilleminaud, L'At/rore, 12 
January 1973). 

Situated at the fringe of rhe intel- 
lectual field, at a poinr whe e he al- 
ready has to speak of it as an 
outsider ('our intelligentsia'), the 
L f Aurore critic does not mince his 
words (he calls a reactionary a re c- 
cionary) and does nor hide his strat- 
egics. The thctorical effect of 
putting words into rhe opponent's 
mouth, in conditions in which his 
discourse, functioning ironically, ob- 
jectively signifies the opposire of 
what he means, presupposes and 


brings into play the very struct 
of the field of criticism and his 2 
ship of immediate conni Van 

irh his readership based ^ l e 
ogy of position. °'" 

From L' Aurore we move f / 
Fgaro* In perfect harmony ^i 

the author of Le Toumant~^thtY 
mony of orchestrated habtrus^^ r " 
Figaw critic cannot but experience 
absolute delight at a play which ■ 
perfectly corresponds ro his cateao. 
rtes of perception and appreciation 
his view of rhe theatre and his vj^ 
of the world However, being fortof 
inro a higher degree of euphemiza- 
tion, he excludes overtly political 
judgements and limits himself to 
the language of aesthetics and eth- 
ics: 'How grateful we should be to 
Mme. Francpise Dorin for being a 
courageously light aurhor, which 
means to say that she is wittily dra- 
matic, and smilingly serious, irrever- 
ent without fragility, pushing her 
comedy into outright vaudeville, hut 
in rhe subtlest way imaginable; an 
aurhor who wields satire wtth ele- 
gance, who ait all times demonstrates 
astounding virtuosity. Franco"* 
Dorin knows much more than any f 
us about the tricks of the dramatutt 
art, the springs of comedy, the /»&' 
tial of a situation, rhe comic or bit- 
ing force of rhe mot juste ^ tt ' 
what skill in taking things ap aft - 
what irony in her deliberate S**' 
stepping, what mastery in rnc 
she lets you sec her pulling "* 
strings! Le Tournant gives evert ^ 
of enjoymenr without a nine o 
indulgence or vulgarity And * 
out ever being facile, since it _ 
quite clear that in this day a*> n 
rt it entirely the avant-garde «^ & 
conformist, it is gravity which ^ ^ t 
die ulcus and boredom whlC {L r in 
imposture Mme Franco^ ^*W 
will relieve a well-balanced a^ 


ir back into balance with 
&^ lw laughra. . ■ ■ Hurry along 

^ oL fa f y° urse ' vcs anc * ^' m suf 

jfl^ ^jj laugh so heartily that you 
f* * eC to think how anguishing 
*'A X for a wriret ro wonder if 
it cit] sr jij in tunc with the times in 
*hc ] ^ c ]j vCS , . . , In che end iti's 
* hlC l0n e vcry° ne asks himself 
' ^."-iv humour and incurable q 

' j nnlV humour aim tncuravK Ofitt- 

^^rjdhimofit! 1 (Jcan- 
fls Gaurier, ^ Wp«. 12 Jin- 

prom /.<? Figaro one moves naru- 
Hy L'Expr™, which balances bc- 
rween endorsement and distance, 
(hereby attaining a distinctly higher 
degree of euphemization: It ought 
re be a runaway success. ... A witty 
jjnJ amusing play A characret. An 
jaor made tor the part: Jean 
Piat . ■ - With an unfailing virtuosity 
thai rs only occasionally overdone, with 
a ily canning, a perfect mastery of (be 
trtiks of the trade, Franchise Do tin 
his written a play on the 'turning 
points' in the Boulevard which is, 
Ironically, the most traditional of 
Boulevard plays. Only morose pedants 
tottpTofa too far into the contrast k~ 
twen two types of theatre and the con- 
*«' between two conceptions of political 
Wfid the prwate Itfe behind it. The 
*mmt dialogue, full of wit and *pi> 
* ffffl w, ts often biringly sarcastic. But 
0f »|atn i s nor a car i caturC| he is 

Ae^-n* StUpid rhan y° m runof ' 
. mill avant,g ar dist. Philippe has 

olf * because he is on his 

^ Uf, d What the author of 

Suftto*** l te* tr * genrly wants to 

« win 1 ,s thac thc Boulcvard sra § c 

m ft^n r P ^° plc sf>cak and bchav c 4 « 
uonly ' a,nd rh is is true, but it 

^M* r P ? ltia( " urn » an d not just 
^fc* >V da3S rr "fh' (Robert 
I9?3j 'Wxpreji, 15-21 January 

^ ef e rh 
[(J «il. ^ approval, which is srilI 

g,ns ro be coloured by sys- 

tematic use of formulations that are 
ambiguous even as tegards the op- 
positions involved: "It ought to be 
a runaway success*, 'asly cunning, a 
perfect mastety of the tricks of the 
trade', 'Philippe has the plum role', 
all formulae which could equally be 
taken pejoratively. And we even 
find, surfacing through its dental, a 
hint of the other truth {'Only mo 
rose pedants will probe too fat . . .*) 
or even of the plain truth, but dou- 
bly neuttalized by ambiguity and de- 
nial ('and not just because it is a 
class truth'). 

Le Monde offers a perfect example 
of ostentatiously neutral discourse, 
even-handediy dismissing borh sides, 
both the overtly political discourse 
of VAurort and the disdainful si- 
lence of Le Nouvti Ohservateur: 'The 
simple, or simplistic, argumenr is 
complicated by a very subtle "two- 
tier" structure, as if rherc were rwo 
plays overlapping. One by Franchise 
Dorin, a conventional author, the 
other invented by Philippe Roussel, 
who tries to take "the turning" to- 
wards modern thearte. This conceit 
performs a circular movement, like a 
boomerang Franchise Dorin deliber- 
ately exposes rhe Boulevard cliches 
which Philippe arracks and, through 
his voice, delivers a violent denunci- 
ation of the bourgeoisie. On the 
second floor, she contrasts this lan- 
guage with that of a young author 
whom she assails with equal vigour. 
Finally, the trajectory brings the 
weapon back onto the Boulevatd 
stage, and the futilities of the mech- 
anism are unmasked by the devices 
of thc traditional theatre, which are 
shown to have lost nothing of their 
value. Philippe can declare himself a 
"coutagcously light" playwright, in- 
venting "characters who talk like 
real people"; he can claim that his 
art is "without frontiers" and there- 
fote non -political. However* the 

demonstration is entirely distorted 
by the model avant-garde author 
chosen by Franchise Dorin. Vanko- 
vicz is an epigone of Marguerite 
Duras, a vaguely militant, belated 
existentialist. He is parodic in the 
extreme, like rhe rheatre that is de- 
nounced here ("A black curtain and 
a scaffold certainly help!" or the rirle 
of rhe play: "Do take a little angst 
in yout coffee, Mr. Karsov"). The 
audience sniggers at this derisive 
picture of modern drama; rhe de- 
nunciation of rhe bourgeoisie is an 
amusing provocation inasmuch as it 
rebounds onto an odious victim and 
finishes him off. . . , To the extent 
that it reflects the state of bourgeois 
theatre and reveals irs systems of de- 
fence, Le Toumant can be regarded 
as an important twrk. Few plays let 
slip so much anxiety about an "ex* 
ternal" threat and recuperate it with 
so much uncor.irious fury' (L uis 
Dandrel, Le Monde, 13 Januaiy 


The ambiguity which Robert 
Kanters was already beginning ro 
cultivate here reaches its peak, The 
argument is 'simple or simplistic', 
take your pick; the play is split in 
two, offering two works (ot the 
teadet's choice, a 'violent' but 'recu- 
peratory' critique of rhe bourgeoisie 
and a defence of non-political art. 
For anyone naive enough to ask 
whether the critic is 'for ot against*, 
whether he finds the play 'good or 
bad*, there are two answers: fust, the 
observation by an 'objective infor- 
mant 1 with a duty towards truth 
that the avant-garde author por- 
trayed is 'parodic in the extreme' 
and that 'the audience sniggers' 
(but without our knowing where 
the critic stands in relation to this 
audience, and therefote what the 
sniggering signifies); and then, after 
a series of judgements that are held 

in ambiguity by many re$erv at * 
nuances and academic attenuat' 0115 ' 
('insofar as . . .', 'can be regafj'^ 5 
, . .'), the assertion that Le To* 
is 'an important work', but be ■ * f 
noted, as a document illustrati 
the crisis of modern civiiizaf,'*^ 


they would no doubt say at ^; 

Pn ****» 


This atr of conciliation arid 

co m . 

promise achieves the virtuosity at 
art for art's sake with the critic of 
the Catholic paper La Croix, who 
laces his unconditional approval 
with such subtly articulated justifi- 
cations, understatements through 
double negation, nuances, reserva- 
tions and self -corrections that the 
final omciliatio oppositorum, so naively 
Jesuitical 'in form and substance* is 
he would say, almost seems to go 
without saying: Le Toumant, as I 
have said, seems to me an admirable 
work, in both form and substance, 
This is nor to sa.y it would not put 
many people's teeth on edge. I hap 
pened to be sitting next to an un- 
conditional supporter of the 
avant-garde and throughout the eve- 
ning 1 was aware of his suppressed 
anger- However, I by no means con- 
clude that Franchise Dorin is unfair 
to certain very respectable — albeit 
often tedious — experiments in the 
contemporary theatre . . . And if she 
concludes— her preference is deli- 
cately hinted— with the triumph o\ 
the "Boulevard"— but a boulevard 
that is itself avant-garde — thar 1S 
precisely because for many W^JL, 
master like Anouilh has placed M& 
self as a guide at the crossroads o ^ 
these two paths' (Jean Vigneron, 
Croix, 2 1 ja n uaty 197 3 ) . ^ 

Although the silence of Le ^ v 
Ofaervateur no doubt signifies s0 
thing in itself, we can form an . 
approximate idea of whar ' ts ,P°- its 
tion might have been by reading 

f Felicien Marceau's play La 
fti* ° T qH«&t> Of the review of 
pf&rtFLjIt which Philippe Trsson, 
ffi/tr* f Combat, wrore for Le 

^ J Etd*"**'' 

O' 1 . t re seems f° me the wrong 

^ apply r0 these m * e£ y g at ^ 

(W% (^ f which a famous and 
m h lov<d ^cor recites the ta- 
^ 5 | v ^fjrry text of an equally fa- 
1)000 author in the middle of an 
I°^re sta^ ser even a revolving 

efceorated with Folons mea- 
^d humour . • • No "ceremony" 
rL ro 'Catharsis" or "revelation" 
other still less improvisation. Jusr a 
plateful of bourgeois cuisine for 
stomachs rhat have seen it ail be- 
\qx. ■ The audience, like all bou- 
levard audiences in Pans, bursts out 
laughing, on cue, in the most con- 
formist places, as and when this 
spirit of easy going rationalism in- 
spires ihem. The connivance is per- 
kct and the acrors are all in on it. 
This play could have been written 
t*n, (verity, or thirty years ago' 
(M. Pierrer, Le Nouvet Observateur> 
1? February 1%4, reviewing 

F&icien Marceau's La Preuve par 
qua tre). 

'Franchise Dorin really knows a 
thing or two. She's a first-rate recu- 
perator and terribly well-bred. Her 
Tournant is an excellcnr Boulevard 
comedy, which runs mainly on bad 
faith and demagogy The lady wants 
to prove that avant-garde theatre is 
a dog's dinner. To do so, she rakes a 
big bag of tricks and, needless to say, 
as soon as she pulls one our the au- 
dience rolls in the aisles and calls for 
more. Our author, who was just wait- 
ing for that, does it again. She gives 
us a young trendy leftist playwright 
called Vankowicz — get it? — and puts 
him in various ridiculous, uncom- 
fortable and rather shady situations, 
to show that this young genrteman 
is no more disinterested, no less 
bourgeois, than you and I. What 
common sense > Mme. Dorin, what lu- 
cidity, what honeity! Vou at least 
have rhe courage to stand by your 
opinions, and very healrhy, red- 
white-and-blue ones they are too' 
(Philippe Tesson, Le Canard En- 
cbatne, 17 March 1973 [italics in all 
foregoing quotations are mine]). 

■ **VT^ 

wughable because they are not urcered in the appropriate place and before 
e r »g nr audience. Instead, they become a 'mockery', a parody, establish- 

g with t heir audience the immediate complicity of laughter, because 
v have persuaded their audience ro reject (if it had ever accepted) the 
^oppositions of the parodied discourse. 

n 0T r ? excm p'ary case clearly shows, it is the logic of the homologies, 
tati C ? ca ' cu ' ar ' on > which causes works to be adjusted to the expec- 
ts . ° ( heir audience. The partial objectifications in which inrellec- 
esse -JS art ' sts indulge in the course of rbeif battles omit what is 
t^lce y "escribmg as the conscious pursuit of success with an audi- 
tfcojv at ' S * n ^ act tnc reSu 't of rhe pre-established harmony berween 
&oi« ; CCrns °^ interests (which may coincide in the person of the 'hour- 
^ol i « or ' more precisely, of the structural and functional ho- 
^ Uc tio n " wccn a given writer's or artist's position in the field of pro- 
and rhe position of his audience in the field of the classes and 

class fractions. By refusing to recognize any other relationship ber- 
the producer and his public than cynical calculation or pure disinter** ?* 
ness, writers and artists give themselves a convenient device fb r *J^ 
themselves as disinterested, while exposing their adversaries 5$ n 8 
vated by the lust for success at any price, provocation and scandal f°*' 
right-bank argument) or mercenary servility (the left-bank arpum 
The so-called 'intellectual lackeys' are right to think and profess i! 
they, strictly speaking, seive no one, They serve objectively 0n j k* 
cause, in all sincerity, they serve their own interests, specific, highly l 
limated and euphemized interests, such as 'interest' in a form of thea 
or philosophy which is logically associated with a certain position • 
2 cerrain field and which (except in crisis periods) has every j^u 1. 
hood of concealing, even from its advocates, the political implication 
it contains. 

Between pure disinterestedness and cynical servility, there is room fc 
the relationships established, objectively, without any conscious j mcn . 
tion, between a producer and an audience, by virtue of which the p^. 
tices and artifacts produced in a specialized and relatively autonomouj 
field of production are necessarily over-determined; the functions (^ 
fulfil in the internal struggles ate inevitably coupled with external rune 
tions, those which rhey receive in the symbolic struggles between the 
fractions of the dominant class and, in the long run, berween the classes 
'Sincerity' (which is one of the pre-condirions of symbolic efficacy) is 
only possible — and red — in the case of perfect, immediate harmony be 
rween rhe expectations inscribed in the position occupied (in a less con- 
secrated area, one would say 'job description') and the dispositions of the 
occupant; it is the privilege of those who, guided by their 'sense of their 
place,' have found their natural site in the field of production. In accor- 
dance with the law chat one only preaches to che conver d, a critic cm 
only Influence* his readers insofar as they grant him this power becau* 
they are sttuctu rally attuned to him in their view of the social world, 
their tastes and their whole habitus. Jean Jaccjues Gautier, for a long tff* 
literary critic of Le Figato, gives a good description of this elective *f* lfr 
ity between the journalist, his paper and his readers; a good Figaro edit 
who has chosen himself and been chosen through the same mechanis ■ 
chooses a Figaro literaiy critic because 'he has rhe right rone for S P C *J ) f f 
to che readers of the paper', because, without making a deliberate en : • 
'he naturally speaks the language of Le Figaro' and is the paper s 
reader'. *]f tomorrow 1 started speaking rhe language of ^ TTq 
Mtkfemes, for example, or Saintts Chapeltes des Lettw, people wOU ^ 
longer read me or understand me, so they would not listen to ^'.^fi 
cause 1 would be assuming a certain number of ideas or argument 
our readers don't give a damn about / ,% To each position r ^ crC , ^ 
spond presuppositions, a doxa, and the homology between rhe P r °\i 1 jfh 
positions and their cli ears' is the precondirion for this complicity* 

. . more strongly required when fundamental values are involved, 

ill t 

is 9|i ve in the theatre. 
* *** 

v£ affinities This limiting case forces one to question the ap- 
& cgs of the direct effect of demand on supply or of supply or dr> 
f**A and ro consider in a new lighc all the encounters between the 
rfl* n f goods production and the logic of raste production through 
to# c , tnc universe of appropriate* appropriated rhings — objects, people, 
ledge, memories etc. — is constituted. The limit of these coinci* 
es of homologous structures and sequences which bring about the 
^ nC rdance between a socially classified person and the socially classified 
C h ncs or persons which 'suit' him is teptescnted by all acts of co-option 
■ 'fellow feeling, friendship or love which lead to lasting relations, so- 
il sanctioned or not. The social sense is guided by the system of mu* 
iually reinforcing and infinitely redundant signs of which each body is 
the pearer- — clothing, pronunciation, bearing, posture, manners — and 
which, unconsciously registered, are the basis of 'antipathies' or *sym- 
pithics', the seemingly most immediate "elective affinities' are always 
parrly based on the unconscious deciphering of expressive features, each 
of which only takes on irs meaning and value within the system of its 
class variations (one only has to think of the ways of laughing or smiling 
noted by ordinary language). Taste is what brings together things and 
people that go together. 

The most indisputable evidence of this immediate sense of social compati- 
bilities and incompatibilities is provided by class and even class-fraction en- 
dogamy, which is ensured almost as strictly by rhe free play of sentiment as 
ty deliberare family inter vention. It is known mar the structure of the cir- 
cinf of matrimonial exchanges tends to reproduce the structure of the social 
^P*^ as described here; 16 it is probable mar the homogeneity of couples is 
"ill uodcrcsrimared and that better knowledge of the 'secondary properties 
° the s p° us « and their families would furrher reduce rhe apparent random 
J mc nt, |^ r exam p| Cj a survey in 1964 of the matrimonial strategies of six 
'hosT Q 948 - l 953) °f arts gtaduares of the Ecole Normale showed rhar of 
^ar a° wcrc ma r'ied ky then (85 percent of the total), 59 percent had 
■he 5 a fcac * icr » and of these 58 percent had married an agreget, 17 Among 
Ilt [ 7* t0rs Of the central administration, who occupy an intermediate po- 
arc Ctv I :wcen the civil service and business, 22.6 percent of whose fathers 
mtiti-j f^ 21 ^ ajl( ^ 22 percent businessmen, 16.6 percent of those who are 
^hfr-i i VC i« a civil-servant father-in-law and 25,2 percent a businessman 
S^v **i Among the alumni of 1NSEAD (European Institute of 
*cco r ~g " m 'nistration), which trains future top executives for the private 
^ ISM P^eenr of whose fathers are industrial or commercial employers 
^rtiej Percent executives or engineers, 23.5 percent of those who are 
^neej avc an employer for father-in-law and 21 percent an executive or 
* vcr y rarely arc rhey the sons (2 percent) or sons in-law (5 per- 

* icaclici - -' 9 And chc decisive contribution of the logic of mauimo- 

cC flt) ° n „ cS ro the reproduction of the gnmde bourgeois has been demon- 
ic 3 "fin^n car, ' cf stm ' y " 70 

j S a match-maker; it marries colouis and also people, who make 
atched couples 1 , initially in regard to tasre. All the acts of co- 
which underlie 'primaiy groups' are acts of knowledge of orhers 
c ^ t '° objects °^ acts °^ knowledge or ' in ^ css intcllectualist terms, sign- 
^^V operations (particularly visible in fiist encoutiteis) through 
**? k 3 habirus confirms its affinity with other habitus, Hence the as- 
* shine harmony of ordinaiy couples who, often matched initially, pro- 
J* , vC |y march each other by a sort of mutual acculturation/ This 
j> -janeouS decoding of one habitus by another is the basis of the immc- 
JT [C affinities which orient social encounteis, discouraging socially dis- 
irdant relationships, encouraging well-marched rclarionships, without 
hese Opccztions ever having to be formulated orher than in the socially 
trmaccru language of likes and dislikes. The extreme improbability of 
the particular encounter between particular people, which masks rhe 
probability of interchangeable chance events, induces couples ro experi- 
ence theit mutual election as a happy accident, a coincidence which 
mimics transcendent design ('made for each other') and intensifies the 
sense of the miraculous. 

Those whom we find ro our taste put into their practices a taste which 

docs not differ from the taste we put into operation in perceiving their 

practices. Two people can give each other no better proof of the affinity 

of their tastes than the taste they have for each other. Just as the art-lover 

finds a raison d'etre in his discovery, which seems to have been waiting 

for all eternity for rhe discoverer's eye, so lovers feel 'justified in existing', 

as Sarrte puts it, 'made preach other', constituted as the end and raison 

dStrc of another existence entirely dependent on their own existence, 

therefore accepted, recognized in their most contingent features, a 

*?y °f laughing or speaking, in short, legitimated in the aibitrariness of a 

> ofbeing and doing, a biological and social destiny. Love is also a way 

vmg one's own desriny in someone else and so of feeling loved in 

s o*n desriny- It is no doubt the supreme occasion of a sort of cxpe- 

°i the mtuiim origmariu% of which the possession of luxury goods 

fch" k S °^ arc ( mac ^ c /^ f rr, eir owner) is an approximate form and 

makes the perceiving, naming subject (we know the role of 

d*c tre "^V n ^ ' a * ovc relations), the cause and the end, in shotr, the raison 

■ °> the perceived subject. 

Le M * 

aitre, par un oeil profond, a, sur ses pas, 

f^se de 1'cden Tinquiere merveille 

r ™ lc frisson final, dans sa voix seule, eveille 

° Ur la Rose et le Lys le mysterc d'un nom. 2 

Tasre is rhe form par excellence of amorfati. The habitus generar 
itsentarionsand practices which are always more adjusted than thev r ^ 
to be to the objective conditions of which they are the product ip^ 
with Marx that 'the petit bourgeois cannot transcend rhe limits ^ ^ 
mind' (others would have said the limits of his understanding) ^ % 
that his thought has the same limits as his condition, that his cond^ *** 
in a sense doubly limits him, by the material limits which it sets ' 0ts 
practice and the limits it sets to his thoughr and therefore his p r '* 
and which make him accept, and even love, these limits 21 We a r - "*' 
better placed to understand the specific effect of the 'raising of consc' °* 
ness': making explicit what is given presupposes and produces a su s J^ 
sion of immediate attachment to the given so that the knowledge r 
probable relationships may become dissociated from recognition of rhem 
and amor fait can rhus collapse into odium fail, hatred of one's desti 

Symbolic Struggles 

To escape from thesubjeccivist illusion, which reduces social space to the 
conjunccural space of interactions, that is, a discontinuous succession of 
abstract situations, s it has been necessary to construct social space as an 
objective space, a structure of objective relations which determines the 
possible form of interactions and of the representations rhe inrcractors 
can have of them. However, one must move beyond this provisional ob- 
jectivism, which, in 'treating social facts as things', reifies what it de- 
scribes. The social positions which presenr themselves ro che observer as 
places juxtaposed in a static order of discrete compartments, raising the 
purely theoretical question of the limits between the groups who occupy 
them, are also strategic emplacements, fortresses to be defended and cap- 
tured in a field of struggles. 

Care must be taken to avoid the objectivist inclination (which is expre»* 
and reinforced in a sparial diagram) ro mark out regions of rhis space that 
are defined once and for all in a single respea and delimited by clearly 
drawn frontiers. For example, as has been shown in rhe case of industrial 
employers and as will subsequently be shown in the exemplary case of the. 
new middle-class fractions, a particularly indeterminate zone in rhar site 
relative indeterminaney represented by rhe perite bourgeoisie, each of rhe 
classes of positions which the ordinary classifications of statistics require us 
ro construcr can itself function as a relatively autonomous field. One only 
has to substitute more strictly defined occupational positions for the rela- 
tively abstract categoties imposed by rhe necessities of statistical accumu 
fion m o r der ro see rhe emergence of the network of competitive rel» tr0 
which give rise, for example, ro conflicts of competence — conflicrs ° ver 
qualifications for legirimace praence of rhe occupation and rhe legirim 3 
scope of the practice— berween agents possessing differenr qualification- ^ 
such as doctors, anaesrhetisrs, nurses, rmdwjves, physiotherapists 3n d " c 

f these universes itself functioning as a field of struggles); or be- 
( ci^ l he occupations, mostly of recent crcacion, offering 'social' guidance 
r #ce n . or JccrS, domestic-economy counsellors, child<are services, mother's 
(j**' 1 * ), educational services (special reachers, remedial teachers, ap- 
h^f*i si hools etc), cultural services {play leaders, yourh leaders, adult 
P f ° tch or medico-psychological services (marriage guidance consul- 

ts* • iCt jjatrk nurses, physiotherapists etc.), whose common feature is 
r,n hev are only denned in and by rhe competition between them and 
rr, * r ra p ntstic strategies through which they seek to transform rhe esrab 

o-ke model of social space that has been put forward here is not only 
r iced by the na ture of the data used (and usable), particularly by the 
tical impossibility of including in the analysis structural features such 
L rhe power which certain individuals or groups have over the econ- 
0Jn y t or even the innumerable associated hidden profits- If most of those 
who carry our empirical research are often led to accept, implicitly or ex- 
plicitly, a rheory which reduces the classes to simple ranked but non- 
antagonistic strata, this is above all because the very logic of their prac- 
tice leads them to ignore what is objectively inscribed in eveiy distribu- 
tion. A distribution, in the statisrical but also the political-economy 
sense, is the balance-sheet, at a given moment, of what has been won in 
previous battles and can be invested in subsequent battles; it expresses a 
state of the power relation between the classes or, more precisely, of the 
struggle for possession of rare goods and for the specifically political 
power over the distribution or redistribution of profit. 

Thus, rhe opposition between theories which describe rhe social world 
m rhe language of stratification and those which speak the language of 
the class struggle corresponds to two ways of seeing the social world 
which, rhough difficult to reconcile in practice, are in no way mutually 
occlusive as regards their principle. 'Empiricists' seem locked into the for- 
mcr ' Jeaving the latter for Theorists', because descriptive or explanatory 
surveys, which can only manifest classes or class fractions in the form of a 
Punctual 5ct of distributions of properties among individuals, always an 
™ c afrer (or before) the battle and necessarily put into parenrheses the 
Ssle of which this distribution is rhe product. When rhe statistician 
mrf^ th3t a ^ thc P ro P e ™ cs he handles, not only those he classifies and 
sures but also rhosc he uses to classify and measure, arc weapons and 
chss r' n *^ C 5Cru S£* c between the classes, he is inclined to abstract each 
*feti rom itS rcJations with the others, not only from the oppositional 
«il J°" S whlcn g iv c properties their distinctive value, but also from thc 
t^ c .? ns °f power and of struggle for power which are the very basis of 
f rcejr ribu ^ 0ns * jkc 3 Photograph of a game of marbles or poker which 
surw r hc ba]ancc sheet of assets (marbles or chips) ar a given stage, the 
TOzes a moment in a struggle in which the agents put back into 

ptay, ar every momenr, rhe capiral rhey have acquired in early pha^ 
rhe struggle, which may imply a power over the struggle itself and th ° f 
Tore over the capital held by others. c ^ 

The strucrure of class relations is what one obtains by Usm 
synchronic cross-section to fix a (more or less steady) state of the fi c u * 
struggles among the classes. The relative strength which the Individ ? 
can put into this struggle, or, in other words, the distribution at ,u 
moment of the different types of capital, defines the structure of the h" u 
bur, equally, the strength which the individuals command depends ' 
the state of the struggle over the definition of the srake of the stru» p f 
The definition of the legitimate means and stakes of struggle is m £ C 
one of the stakes of the struggle, and the relative efficacy of rhe means f 
controlling the game (the diffetenr sorts of capital) is itself at stake aju 
therefore subject to variations in the course of the game. Thus, as has 
constantly been emphasized hete (if only by use of quotation marks) ih» 
notion of 'overall volume of capital', which has to be constructed in 
order to account fbrcerrain aspects of practice, nonetheless remains a the- 
oretical artifact; as such, it could produce thoroughly dangerous effects if 
everything rhat has to be set aside in order to construct it wene forgotten, 
not lea t the fact that the conversion rate berween one sort of capit aland 
another is fought over at all times and is therefore subject to endless 

Dispositions are adjusted not only to a class condition, presenting itself 
as a Set of possibilities and impossibilities, but also to a relational^ de- 
fined position, a rank in the class structure. They are therefore always re 
lated, objectively at least, to the dispositions associated with other 
positions. This means that f being 'adapted* to a particular class of condi j 
tions of existence characterized by a particular degree of distance from ne- 
cessity, class 'moralities* and 'aestherics* are also necessarily situated with 
respect to one anorher by the criterion of degree of banality or distinc- 
tion, and thar all the 'choices' they produce are automatically associa^ 
with a distincr position and therefore endowed with a distinctive value. 
This occurs even without any conscious intention of distinction of c 
plicir pursuit of difference. The genuinely intentional strategies through 
which members of a group seek to distinguish rhemselves from 
group immediately below (or believed to be so), which they use as a 
and to identity themselves with the group immediately above (or bjf 
Jieved to be so), which they thus recognize as the possessor of the leg 
mate life-style, only ensure full efficacy, by intentional reduplrW "' hc 
the automatic, unconscious effects of the dialectic of the rare an '^ 
common, the new and the dated, which is inscribed in the ohjccriv ^ 
ferentiation of conditions and dispositions. Even when it is in no • 
spired by the conscious concern to stand aloof from working-class ^ 
every petit-bourgeois profession of rigour, every eulogy of r «e 

„nd neat, contains a tacit reference ro uncleanness, in words or 
w* t0 intemperance or improvidence; and the bourgeois claim to ease 
ih' jV Jrerion. detachment or disinterestedness, need nor obey an inten- 
ot j search for distinction in order to contain an implicir denunciation 
tl ° n , 'pfcrensions*, always marked by excess or insufficiency, of rhe 'nar- 
winded* or 'flashy', 'arrogant' or 'seivile', 'ignorant* or 'pedantic* pe- 

nrir bourgc o,s, c. 

I i$ no accident that each group tends to recognize its specific values 

rhat which makes its value, in Saussure's sense, that is, in the latest 

A fierence which is also, very often, the latcsr conquest, 2 * in the structural 

A genetic deviation which specifically defines it- Whereas the working 
lasses* educed to 'essential* goods and virtues, demand cleanness and 
-rarticaliry. the middle classes, relatively freer from necessity, look for a 
warm, 'cosy*, comfortable or near interior, or a fashionable and original 
garment. 27 These are values which rhe privileged classes relegate to sec- 
ond rank because they have long been theirs and seem to go without Say- 
t ng having attained intentions socially recognized as aesthetic, such as 
the pursuit of harmony and composition, they cannot identify their dis 
cinction w ith properties, pracrices or 'virtues' which no longer have to be 
tUtmed or which, because they have become commonplace and lost their 
distinctive value, no longer tan be claimed. 

As is shown in figure 10 by the series of histograms indicating the class 
Traction variations of the adjectives applied to the ideal domestic interior 
(except for three of them, classical, near — soignt~-zT\& sober, which proved 
'o be ambiguous), rhe proportion of choices emphasizing overtly aesthetic 
properties (studied, imaginative, harmonious) grows as one moves up the 
social hierarchy, whereas the proportion of 'functionalist* choices (clean, 
pradtcai, easy to maintain) declines. The steady distortion of rhc histogram 
»n fact points towards three relatively incommensurable extremes; the small 
shopkeepers Jead to the industrial and commercial employers, the primary 
teachers to rhe secondary teachers and the 'cultural intermediaries' to the ar- 
ttstic produce^. The same logic is found in the refusal of adjectives. The 
°'|ang classes never reject 'clean and tidy*, 'easy to maintain' or 'practical'. 
T* middle classes, the established fractions (office workers, junior ad- 
^inistrativc executives, craftsmen and shopkeepers) reject 'imaginative' 
(ex more °^ n f ^ an c ^ aS5 i ca ^' m contrast to the new petite ooorgeoisie 
(**tiedalk/ ^ cra ^ tsmtfri ')» who ' ] 'k c mosr fractions of the dominant class 
mor r fhC tcachcrs and members of the professions), reject 'classical 1 
^^^than 'imaginative*. 

( fef^ CS -* JtUS °**y a sorr °^ g cncr3, ' 2C ^ Engel's law. At each level of the 
3u r <J r uri ° n * wnat is rare and constitutes an inaccessible luxury or an ab 
mon anta ^y ft* those at an earlier or lower level becomes banal and com- 
appJ in ° is relegated to the order of the taken-for-g ranted by the 
nee of new, rarer and more disrincrive goods; and, once again, this 

Figure JO Idea) homes 
Manual workers 

Craftsmen, smaiJ shopkeepers 

OfTke workers, . Uri . 



± 2 ^ 

■ &| 3 £ 6 c «? 

2 t- — C - C ^ b 

| II f J 1 | | | f J 

*- .5 *» 2 I| 

M chcrs, 


"•£22 5 o = "B 

JJ f i I § I $ J .f 1 



1 1 

1 1 

1 1 

1 1 

a 1 

Medical services, 
cultural imetmettune 

art craftsmen 

.1 g 

5 | 

1 a 

J £ | E S 

I i I I II 

19 = - 2 £ 8 

, a 2 .s o c ; i. 

I i 1 s f S I J s 

Industrial and 
commercial employers 



(higher and second 

S * £ 

ns without any intentional pursuit of distinctive, distinguished rar- 
ttffP .fjj C sense of good investment which dictates a withdrawal from 
itf" j^ or simply devalued, objects, places or practices and a move 
oilt v . cr newer objects in an endless drive for novelty, and which oper 
]0 *° n every area * sport and cooking, holiday resorts and restaurants, is 
***■ ? d by countless different indices and indications, from explicit warn- 
t* /'Sairt-Tropez* — or the Buflfet de la gare de Lyon, or anywhere 
, ™ - , ( has ^come impossible') to the barely conscious intuitions, which, 
c fYz awarcr.css of popularization or overcrowding, insidiously arouse 
or or disgust for objects or practices that have become common. (It 
no accident that tastes in painting or music so often follow paths 
'h'tch tevivals and rehabilitations apart, reptoduce history in biogra- 
u v ) So the seatch for distinction has no need to see itself for what it is, 
Lcl all the intolerances— of noise, crowds etc. — inculcated by a bourgeois 
upbringing are generally sufficient to provoke the changes of terrain or 
object whjch, in work as in leisure, lead Towards the objects, places or ac- 
tivities rarest at a given moment. Those who are held to be distinguished 
have the privilege of nor worrying about their distinction; rhey can leave 
ir to the objective mechanisms which provide theit distinctive properties 
and to the 'sense of distinction* which steers them away from everything 
'common*. Where the petir bourgeois or nouveau riche 'overdoes it', be- 
traying his own insecurity, bourgeois discretion signals its presence by a 
sore of ostentatious discretion, sobriety and understatement, a refusal of 
everything which is 'showy*, 'flashy' and pretentious, and which devalues 
irself by the very intention of distinction. 

When asked how they would dtess if 'invited to dinner by their husband's 
bow', 55 percent of the wives of junior executives or office workers (32 per- 
cent of manual workers' wives, 29 percent of farm workers' wives) say they 
would 'wear their best clothes', as against only 19 percent of the wives of 
industrial and commercial employers, senior executives and professionals, of 
*hora gi percent say they would change their clothes 'but without putting 
M their Sunday best', compared with 67 percent of the middle-class wives 
a ^j8p crcCnl of rhe w orking-class wives (C.S. XLII). 

juggles over the appropriation of economic or cultural goods are, si- 
r • u rane ously, symbolic struggles to appropriate distinctive signs in the 
thl m ° c ' ass i ne< l classifying goods or practices, or to conserve or subvert 

Principles of classification of these distinctive properties. As a conse- 
U le ce ' rne space of life-styles, i.e., the universe of rhe properties whereby 
ty- t , 0CCu pants of different positions differentiate themselves, with or 
t n , * tne intention of distinguishing themselves, is itself only the bal- 
&i tl0 eet > at a given moment, of the symbolic struggles over the impo- 
st^. | rne legitimate Hfe-style, which are most fully developed in the 

Si cs for the monopoly of rhe emblems of 'class' — luxury goods, le- 

gitimate cultural goods — or the legitimate manner of 2ppropri at j 
them. The dynamic of the field in which these goods are produced a 8 
reproduced and circulate while yielding profits of distinction lies j n i 
strategies which give rise to their rarity and to belief in their value ar} , 
which combine — in their veiy opposition — to bring about these obj er 
tive effects. 'Distinction', or bettet, 'class', the transfigured, misrecogn" 
able, legitimate form of social class, only exists through the struggles f n 
the exclusive appropriation of the distinctive signs which make 'natural 

Culture is a stake which, like all social stakes, simultaneously pres U D 
poses and demands that one take part in the game and be taken in by ; r 
and interest in culture, without which there is no race, no competition i' 
produced by the very race and competition which ir produces. The value 
of culture, rhe supreme fetish, is generated in the initial investment jm- 
plied by the mere fact of entering the game, joining in the collective ^ 
lief in the value of the game which makes rhe game and endlessly 
remakes the competition for the stakes. The opposition between the * au . 
thentic' and the 'imitation', 'true' culture and 'popularization', which 
maintains the game by maintaining belief in the absolute value of Hie 
stake, conceals a collusion that is no less indispensable to the production 
and reproduction of the itlu$io } the fundamental recognition of the cul- 
tural game and irs stakes Distinction and pretension, high culture and 
middle-brow culture — like, elsewhere, high fashion and fashion, haute 
coiffure and coiffure, and so on— only exist through each other, and it is 
the relation, or rarher, the objective collaboration of their respective pro- 
duction apparatuses and clients which produces rhe value of eulrure and 
the need ro possess it. It is in these struggles between objectively com- 
plied opponents that the value of culture 15 genetated, or, which 
amounts to the same thing, belief in rhe value of culture, interesr in cul- 
ture and the interest of culture — which are not self-evident, although one 
of rhe effects of the game is ro induce belief in the innateness of rhe de- 
sire to play and the pleasure of playing. It is barbarism to ask what cul- 
ture is for; to allow the hypothesis that culture might be devoid of 
intrinsic interest, and that interest in culture is not a natural properry— 
unequally distributed, as if to separate rhe barbarians from the elect — but 
a simple social artifact, a particular form of fetishism; to raise the *? ucs * 
tion of rhe interest of activities which are called disinterested becau^ 
they offer no intrinsic interest (no palpable pleasure, for example), a n 
so to introduce the question of the interest of disinterestedness. 

The struggle itself thus produces effects which tend to disguise P* 
very existence of the struggle. If the relationship of the different classc 
with culture can be described indifferently either in the language » 
voured by Maurice Halbwachs) of distance from the centres of c ultu 
values or in the language of conflict, this is because the symbolic str *_ 
gles between the classes have no chance of being seen and organic 

c h and are bound co take the form of competitive struggles helping ro 
c p ro duce the gaps which are the essence of the race. It is no accident 
hat— -apart from Proudhon, who is inspired by his petit-boutgeois horror 
c t he dissolute, slovenly lifcscyle of artists, and by what Marx calls his 
,- raC hominis probi', to dare to expose the hidden, represseel face of the 
^. t i r e bourgeoisie's ambivaJent idea of art — there is practically no ques- 
tioning of arr and culture which leads to a genuine objectification of the 
| tu ral game, so strongly are the dominated classes and rheir spokesmen 
■flibued w ' r ^ a sense °f theit cultural unworthiness. 

Nothing is further from such objectification than the artistic denunciation 
of the arr which some artists go in for, 29 or the activicies grouped under 
che term counter-culture. The lartet merely contest one culture in the name 
of another, countetposing a culture dominated within the relatively autono- 
mous field of cultural production and distribution (which does not make it 
the culture of the dominated) to a dominant cuitute; in so doing rhey ful- 
fil the traditional role of a cultural avant-garde which, by its very existence, 
helps ro keep the cultural game functioning 

The dominated classes intervene in the symbolic struggles to appropri- 
ate the distinctive properties which give the distinctive life-styles their 
physiognomy and especially in the struggles ro define the legitimate 
properties and the legitimate mode of appropriation, only as a passive ref- 
erence point, a foil. The nature against which culture is here constructed 
is nothing other than what is 'popular', 'low*, 'vulgar', 'common' This 
means that anyone who wanrs to 'succeed in life* must pay for his ac 
cession to everything which defines rruly humane humans by a change of 
nature, a 'social promotion* experienced as an ontological promotion, a 
process of 'civilization' (Hugo speaks somewhere of the 'civilizing power 
of Art'), a leap from nature to culture, from the animal to the human; 
but having internalized the class struggle, which is at the very heart of 
cuitute, he is condemned to shame, horror, even harred of the old Adam, 
his language, his body and his tastes, and of everything he was bound ro, 
his roots, his family, his peers, sometimes even his mother tongue, from 
which he is now separated by a frontier more absolure rhan any taboo. 
The struggles to win everything which, in rhe social world, is of the 
otder of belief, credit and discredit, perception and appreciation, knowl- 
edge and recognition — name, renown, prestige, honour, gloiy, authotity, 
evCF ything which constitutes symbolic power as a recognized power — al- 
^ avs concern the 'distinguished* possessots and the 'pretentious' chal 
ngers Pretension, the recognition of distinction that is affirmed in the 
WCt to possess ' c » albeit in the illusory form of bluff or imitation, in- 
r ,re s the acquisition, in itself vulgarizing, of the previously most dis- 
n ctWe properties; it rhus helps to maintain constant tension in the 
ymbolic goods market, forcing rhe possessots of distinctive properties 

threatened wirh popularization ro engage in an endless purs u j r 
properties through which ro assert rheir rariry. The demand ^, . ^ 
generated by this dialectic is by definition inexhaustible since t h j" ij 
inated needs which constitute ir must endlessly redefine thernscl ***' 
terms of a distinction which always defines itself negatively in relar ^ ' R 
them. " to 

Nietzsche's 'enlightened elitism' comes close to the scientific trurh of t 
mechanisms of the production of belief in the value of culture; 'Yoi, _ 

w cre 


producrion of belief in the value of culture; 'You 
wont to say that no one would srrive fa culture if he knew how un ^j' 
ably small the number of truly cultured men is and indeed can only be'" 
yer that even rhis small number of tiuly cultured men was not possible * 
less a great mass, determined, fundamentally, against their nature and on i 
by a seductive illusion, engaged in the pursuit of culture; char Therefore 
nothing should be publicly divulged of the ridiculous disproportion ^. 
rween the number of truly cultivated men and the vast apparatus of cul- 
ture; that the peculiar secret of culture was this: that countless people wort 
for culture, apparently for themselves, but ultimately only to make a few 
people possible.' 30 

The symbolic struggles over being and seeming, over the symbolic 
manifestations which the sense of appropriateness, as strict as the old 
sumptuary laws, assigns to the different social conditions ('Who does he 
think he is?"), separating, for example, natural 'grace* from usurped 'airs 
and graces', are both based and focussed on the degree of freedom from 
one's 'starion' that is allowed by the specific logic of symbolic manifesta- 
tions. Countless social arrangemenrs arc designed to regulate the tela- 
rions between being and seeming, from the laws on the illegal weaniig of 
uniforms and decorations and all forms of usurpation of titles, to ite 
gentlesr forms of repression aimed at recalling to reality, ro the 'sense of 
reality*, of limits, those who, by exhibiting the external signs of a wealth 
associated with a condition higher than their own, show that they 'think 
themselves' something better rhan they are, the pretenrious pretended 
who betray by their poses, their postures, their 'presentation* that ^ 
have a self-image too far our of line wirh the image others have of them. 
to which they ought to cut down their self-image ('climb down'). 

The relation to one's own body which is expressed in a cerrain manne r v 
bearing — the 'natural' self-confidence, ease and authority of someone *p° 
feels authorized, the awkwardness or arrogance of someone who ** nn P f j^ 
picion upon his legitimacy by his too patent need to assert it — is one o 
most visible traces of early and recurrent exposure to archetypal situatio 
which are very unequally probable fa the different social classes It is 
of the most powerful social markers, and for rhis reason the forced or * 
fected ease of the bluffer is always exposed to the demystifying irony ol 
interlocutor who 'sees through* it and refuses to be 'taken in'. 

docs not mean rhat the strategies of pretension are lost in ad- 

$ijice fhe surest sign of legitimacy is self assurance, bluff — if ir 

v iflC ^j 5 (first by impressing the bluffer) — is one of the few ways of 

Sitf^T rn e limits of social condition by playing on the relative auron- 

cs^P Ythe symbolic (i.e., of the capacity to make and perceive represen- 

°^? ) in order to impose a self-representation normally associated wirh 

** * her condition and to win for it the acceptance and recognition 

s \ make it a legitimate, objective representation. Without sub sc rib- 

o the inreracrionist — and typically petit-bourgeois — idealism which 

ejves the social world as will and representation, it would nonerhe- 

* be absurd to exclude from social realiry the *cpresen ration which 

\lfits form of that reality. The reality of the social world is in fact partly 

\ irftmin^ by rnc struggles between agents over the representation of 

u jr position in the social world and, consequently, of rhat world. 

fa js shown by the inversion of the relationship berween spendmg on 
food and on clothing, and more generally, on substance and on appear- 
ance, as one moves from the working class to the petite bourgeoisie, the 
middle classes are committed to the symbolic. Their concern for appear 
ince, which may be experienced as unhappy consciousness, sometimes 
disguised as arrogance, 5 is also a source of rheir pretension, a permanent 
disposition towards the bluff or usuipation of social identity which con- 
sists in anticipating 'being' by 'seeming', appropriating the appearances 
so as ro have the realiry, the nominal so as ro have the real, in trying to 
modify the positions in the objective classifications by modifying the rep- 
resentation of the ranks in the classification or of the principles of classi- 
fication, Torn by all the contradictions between an objectively dominated 
condition and would-be participation in the dominant values, the petit 
bourgeois is haunted by the appearance he offers ro others and the judge- 
ment they make of it He constantly overshoots the mark for fear of fall- 
ing shorr ( betraying his uncertainty and anxiery about belonging in his 
j^'cry to show or give the impression that he belongs, He is bound to 

seen^both by the working classes, who do not have this concern with 

1 ^ Ir being-for-others, and by the privileged classes, who, being sure of 

r they are, do not care what they seem — as the man of appearances, 

need by r he look of others and endlessly occupied with beine seen in 
a Sood )i g h r . 

hi v!k^ *° '' nkct ^ t0 appearance— rhe one he has to give, nor only to do 
Iw» that is, play his role, to 'make believe', to inspire confidence or 
of h f P rcs ent his social character, his 'presentation', as a guaranree 
•^css P ucrs or services he offers (as is the case wirh salespeople, busi- 
<fe|*i fc P rCscntarivcs . hostesses ere,), but also ro assert his pretensions and 
ho .* ro advance his interests and upward aspirations — the petit 
it t0 0(s * s inclined to a Berkeleian vision of rhe social world, reducing 
taL theatre in which being is never more than perceived being, a men- 
big; i sem , at ' on of a rhcatrical performance {representation)} 2 His am 
s P os * r ion in the social structure, somerimes compounded by the 

ambiguity inherent in all the roles of intermediary between the c | te 
manipulated manipulators, deceived deceivers— ofrcn his very traCT^ 
which leads him to the positions of second-in-command, second offi°^ 
second lead, second fiddle, eminence grise, agent, deputy or stand-in *?' 
prived of the symbolic profits associated with the recognized status' 
official delcgarion which allow legitimate imposture (and w ett-plar-j 
suspect its true foundation): eveiy thing predisposes him to perceive l° 
social world in terms of appearance and reality, and the more he has 
sonally had to 'climb down*, the more inclined he is to observe manm [ 
tions and impostures with the suspicious eyes of resentment.** 

But the sice par excellence of symbolic snuggles is the dominant h- 
itself The confltcrs between artists and intellectuals over the definition ^ 
culture are only one aspect of the interminable struggles among t ne Jr 
fcrent fractions of the dominant class to impose the definition of the U 
gttimate stakes and weapons of social struggles, in orher words, to deW 
the legitimate principle of domination, between economic, educational 
or social capital, social powers whose specific efficacy may be com- 
pounded by specifically symbolic efficacy, that is, the authority conferred 
by being recognized, mandated by collective belief The struggle between 
the dominant fractions and the dominated fractions (themselves consn 
tuting fields organized in a structure homologous to that of the domi- 
nant class as a whole) tends, in its ideological retranslation — and here the 
dominated fracrions have the initiative and the upper hand — to be orga- 
nized by oppositions that are almost superimposablc on those which the 
dominant vision sets up between the dominant class and the dominated 
classes: on the one hand, freedom, disinterestedness, the 'purity' of sub- 
limated tastes, salvation in the hereafter; on rhe other, nccessiry, self 
interesr, base material satisfactions, salvation in rhis world. It follows that 
all the strategies which intellectuals and artists produce against the 
'bouigcois* inevitably tend, quite apart from any explicit intention, and 
by virtue of the structure of rhe space in which rhey are generated, to be 
dual-action devices, directed indifferently against all forms of subjection 
to material interests, popular as much as bourgeois; 'I call bourgeois ^bo- 
evcr thinks basely*, as Flauberr put it- This essential over derermi na "° n 
explains how the 'bourgeois* can so easily use the art produced aga^ 
them as a means of demonstrating their distinction, whenever they set* 
to show thar, compared to the dominated, they are on the side °* ■ 
ceresredness\ 'freedom', 'purity* and the *soul', thus turning against l 
other classes weapons designed for use against themselves- / 

It is clearly no accidenr that the dominant art and the dominant an 
living agree on the same fundamental distinctions, which are all btBfi»^ 
the opposition between the brutish nccessiry which forces irself on 
vulgar, and luxury, as the manifestation of distance from necessity* 
cericism, as self-imposed constra.inr, two contrasting ways of dcfyi^S ^ 
ture, need, appetite, desire; between the unbridled squandering w . ouS 
only highlights the privations of ordinary existence, and theostenta 

7i <f 8 ra tu * tous expense or the austerity of" elecrive restriction; be 
it&^ surrender to immediarc, easy satisfactions and economy of means, 
r* cC ^ [n p a possession of" means commensurate with the means pos- 
b^Pj p aS e is so universally approved only because it represents the most 
***?! assertion °f freedom from the constramts which dominate ordi- 
tf ' S ' pco?^ c < tnc most '"disputable affirmation of capita) as the capacity 
s*V the demands of biological natuie or of the authority which en- 
rides one to ignore them. 
Thus linguistic case may be manifested eithet rn rhe tours de force of 
m - beyond what is required by strictly grammatical or pragmatic rules, 
aking optional liaisons, for example, or using rare words and tropes in 
nlace of common words and phrases, or in the freedom from the de- 
mands of language or situation that is asserred in the liberties taken by 
those who are known to know better These opposing strategies, which 
place one above the rules and proprieties imposed on ordinary speakers, 
a re in no way mutually exclusive. The two forms of conspicuous free- 
dom, unconventional constraint and deliberate transgression, can coexist 
at different moments or different levels of the same discourse-, lexical 're- 
laxation' may, for example, be counterbalanced by increased rension in 
Syntax ot dieti"on f or the reveisc (this is clearly seen m condescension 
strategies, in which the gap thus maintained between the levels of lan- 
guageis rhe symbolic equivalenr of the double game of asserting distance 
by appearing to negate it). Such strategies — which may be perfecrly un- 
conscious, and thereby even more effecrive--are the ultimate riposre to 
rhe hyper-correcrion strategies of pretentious outsiders, who are duown 
into self doubt about the rule and the right way to conform to it, para- 
lyzed by a reflexiveness which is the opposite of ease, and left 'without a 
leg to stand on\ 

The speaker who can 'take rhe liberty' of standing outside rules fit only 
for pedants or grammarians — who, nor surprisingly, are disinclined to 
write these games with the rules into rheir codifications of the Imguistic 
S*me — puts himself forward as a maker of higher rules, i.e., a taste-maker, 
**» arbiter eUgamium whose transgressions are nor mistakes but the an. 
nunc, ation of a new fashion, a new mode of expression or action which 
*'» become a model, and then modal, normal, the norm, and will call for 
' transgressions by those who refuse to be ranked in rhe mode, to be 
incl udcd, absorbed, in the class defined by the least classifying, least 
'Yh m0St comrnon » leasr distinctive, least distinguishing property. 

. We sec that, contrary to all naively Darwinian convictions, the (so- 
ba °f iCz ^y well founded) illusion of 'natural distinction' is ultimately 
. n the power of the dominant to impose, by their veiy existence, a 
Q £ lfl on of excellence which, being nothing other than rheir own way 
Cnr Xl5tin & * s bound to appear simultaneously as distinctive and differ- 
re c 'l therefore both arbitrary (since it is one among others) and per- 
y ne c essaiy ( absolute and natural 

,n the sense of 'natural facility* is no more than ease in rhe sense 

of a 'comfortable situation ensuring an easy life': the propositi^ 
destructive, since there would be no need to point out chat ease * ^t 
what it is, if it were tealJy not something else, which is also Pa l 0tl ly 
truth. This is the error of objectivism, which forgets to include -°^' t $ 
complete definition of the object the representation of the object 'k ^ 
has had to destroy in order to arrive at the 'objective' definia 0tv l it 
forgets to perform the final reduction of its reduction that j s j^V "'ch 
able in order to grasp the objective truth of social facts, objects ^ l ' 
being also consists in their being perceived. One has to put back ' 
complete definition of ease what is destroyed by recalling that easc !? L * 
Aristotle's virtue, requires a certain ease (or, conversely, chat emba' 
ment arises from embarrassment), that is, the effect of imposition ^lT 
those who only have to be in order to be excellent achieve by tnc j 
existence. This perfect coincidence is the very definition of ease wh ch 
return, bears witness to this coincidence of 'is 1 and 'ought' and to tftc 
self -affirming power it contains. 

The value placed on casualness and on all forms of distance from self 
stems from the fact that, in opposition to the anxious tension of the 
challengers, they manifest both the possession of a large capital (lingui* 
tic or other capital) and a freedom with respect to that capital which is a 
second-order affitmation of power over necessity. Verbal virtuosities or 
the gt atuicous expense of time or money that is presupposed by material 
or symbolic appropriation of works of art, or even, at the second power, 
the self -imposed constraints and resttictions which make up the 'asceti- 
cism of the privileged* (as Matx said of Seneca) and the refusal of the 
facile which is the basis of all 'pure' aesthetics, ate so many repetitions of 
that variant of the master-slave dialectic rhrough which the possessors af- 
firm their possession of their possessions. In so doing, they distance 
themselves still further from the dispossessed, who, not content w ^ 
being slaves to necessity in all its fotms, are suspected of being po$3 cSSC( ^ 
by the desire for possession, and so potentially possessed by the poss^ 
sions they do not, or do not -yet, possess. 55 

jXl class Tastes and 



Our pride is more offended by attacks on our 
tastes than on our opinions 

La Rochefoucauld, Maxims 

In order that rhc description of life-styles may constitute a valid ^ 
verification, we must go back to the survey and compare rhc uniti ^'^ 
are brought to light by the method which seems best suited t0 o^ *^t 
whole set of observations in simultaneity and to draw out the i mr Z^ r ^c 
structures without imposing any presuppositions — namely, anaU ^ 
the correspondences — with the unities that can be constructed on r ^ ? °f 
of rhe principles of division which objectively define rhc major dax , 
homogeneous conditions and conditionings, and therefore habit i^ °^ 
practices Such an operation reproduces, in reverse, rhe transfo rrna - 
which ordinary perception performs when it applies socially consritu j 
schemes of perception and assessment to the practices and properties t 
agents, constituting them as distinctive life-styles through which lt 
tuits social conditions. 

In restricting ourselves ro the survey data (as a linguist may limir himself 
to the finite corpus of sentences produced in response to a finite set of tr " 
gets), we deny ourselves rhc possibility of evoking the infinite richness f 
each life style. This possibility is in fact purely theoretical since, to avoid 
rhe positivisr temptation, which Jorge Luis Borges describes, of making a 
map as big as the country, one would have ro find rhe sryle most capable of 
evoking the features which (as a differential equation condenses a curve) 
condense a whole universe of practices. To avoid the monotony of refer- 
ences limited to rhc indicators used in rhe survey, it would have been possi- 
ble ro substitute numerous equivalents fa the works and composers 
actually offered (for example, rhe Goldberg Variations or the LittU Notebook 
for Anna Niagdaiena Bach for the W$U*Tcmf€Ttd Clavier, or, among the sing- 
ers, Rcggiani, Ferrat, Barbara or Juliette Greco for Br el and Douai, or Mar- 
cel Amonr, Adamo or Mireille Marhieu for Aznavour). This procedure, 
though perfectly consistent with the logic of taste, which constantly makes 
such substitutions within classes of equivalents vaguely, perceived on rhc 
basis of social cues, was rejected on the grounds that the very mrure of 
classes of equivalents depends on the system of classification pur into opera- 
tion: where one person will only sec interchangeable elements of rhc care- 
gory 'classical music\ another will refuse the seemingly most justified 
subsrirutions (same composer or period, similar form *.nd sryle). 

As Aristorle said, ir is because bodies have colour that we observe tn 
some arc a different colour from others; different things differentia^ 
themselves through what they have in common. Similarly, the dine 
fractions of rhe dominant class distinguish themselves precisely tr,r0 
that which makes them members of rhe class ss a whole, namely rhc ^K 
of capital which is the source of their privilege and rhe different rnan 
of asserring their distinction which are linked to it. _ , ( 

And jusr as, to borrow an example from Anatol Rapaport, w e ^P^Lp 
a cloud or a forest, alrhough in each case rhe density of the trees or 
lets is a continuous function and the limir does not exist as * clc ^ 

^ c can sp^k of a class fraction although it is nowhere possible to 
ft° c ' <icm arcat ion line such that we can find no one on eirher side who 
if&[ _ a J| rhc properties most frequent on one side and none of the 
p * 5 ^^ most frequent on the other. I n this universe of continuity, the 
P 10 ? f construction and observation is able ro isolate (relatively) homo 
*° r $ sets °f individuals characterized by sets of properties that are 
£&? cal'y and 'socio-logically 1 interrelated, in other words, groups sepa- 
5t% A by sysrems of differences. 


T^e Sense of 

# » 


[fir is true, as I have endeavoured ro establish, that, first, che dominanr 
class consti cures a tetocively autonomous space whose structure is defined 
by che distribution of economic and cuirural capital among its members, 
each class fraction being characterized by a certain configuration of this 
distribution to which there corresponds a certain life-sryle, through the 
mediation of rhc habirus; thae, second, the distribution of these rwo 
types of capiral among the ftacrions is symmetrically and inversely stnic 
cured; and rhar, third, the different inherired asset srrucrures, together 
w»irh social trajectory, command rhe habitus and the systematic choicest 
produces m all areas of practice, of which the choices commonly regard*" 
as aesrheric are one dimension — then these srrucrures should be round in 
rhe space of lire-sryles, i.e., in rhe different systems of properties in which 
the dirTerenr sysrems of dispositions express themselves.' To endeavour T0 
establish this, the whole ser of survey data was subjected to corresp° p 
dence analysis* 

As a first stage, after a methodical reading of rhe cables expressing rnt j 
suits of the survey (see appendix 3), rhe answers given by rhe member* 
the dominant class (n — 467) ro various sees of questions (set rhc ques- 
tionnaire, appendix 1 ) were analyzed in order to determine whether rn 
srructures and explanatory faccors varied according to the area of pracri 
These included: all che questions on knowledge or preferences in p»' n " * c , 
and music and on museum-going, which all measure Icgirimare comf* 
all che quescions on the likelihood of producing a beautiful, interesting 
meaningless or ugly photograph from each of rhe ewenry-one subjects. 

(P ra-Mirc the aesthetic disposition, all the questions on the preferred 
•^ radio programmes and books, on knowledge of film actors and 
s ' rs ar ^ on P crSoria ' phorography, which all measure middle-brow cui- 
^ lf£< II rhe choices as regards domesric interior, furniture, cooking, clothes, 
rUf * [ lEIC 5 of fnends, through which ethical dispositions are more directly 
l ' l ^L<e(i a°d so on. In all these analyses, the first factor opposes the frac- 
CJf irichcsr in economic capital ro the fracrrons richest in cultural capital 
f ° n rnmercial employers and rhe higher-education teachers or cultural pro- 
■* c 3r c squared at the two opposite extremes of rhe axis (see figures 11, 
\~ w hile tric roetnhers of rhe professions, the executives and the engineers 
rimy intermediate positions. In rhe analysis based on the indicators of 
fffcrencc in middle brow culture, the commercial employers are opposed 
P { srro"g'y to rrie secondary teachers (rather than rhe highereducarion 
has or rnc 3rristtC producers), in accordance wirh a logic already ob- 
T ved in the primary teachers' preferences for singers. In the analysis based 
n r he indicators of ethical disposition, ihe artistic producers, who thereby 
assert rheir casualness and indifference ro convention, are opposed to the 
teachers, the engineers and the pubJic-sector executes, and occupy posi- 
t^ns very close ro those of the commercial employers (to whom they are 
verv strongly opposed in orher respecrs. identified in this case by the second 


Having thus identified the most pertinent indicators in each case, it was 
necessary, in order to avoid the over-loading resulting from the abundance 
of information gathered (see questionnaire, appendix 1). to eliminare from 
the final analysis — only the resulcs of which arc presented here— the ques- 
tions which proved to be badly phrased (such as the questions on clorhing 
ot on types of books) or less classifying, in favour of questions (such as 
ihat on coohng) measuring much rhe same dispositions (the questions on 
photographic subjects were also excluded, and analysed separately). The 
tfara retained (for disjunctive coding) were thus those which concerned the 
qualities of an interior (twelve adjectives), the qualities of a friend (twelve 
lc Uccnves), rhe style of meals served to friends (six possibilities), furniture 
Orchises (six possibilities), preferred singers (twelve), preferred works of 
^feisical music (fifreen), visits to rhe Modern Art Museum or the Louvre, 
Knowledge of composers (classified into four levels), opinions on art (five). 

g lv « rhe demonsrraiion its full force, rhe characrerisrics treared as illus- 

jKtvfc variables were age, father's occupation, qualifications and income; 

*» fraction, which constitutes the most powerful explanatory factor, was 
used as such in the analysis. (Exactly the same operations were applied 
ln ?"*ty sin g rhe responses of rhe middle and working classes; see chaprets 6 

Hj c a V s ' s °f the correspondences makes ir possible to isolate, rhrough 
(ji S e divisions, diffcrem coherenr sets of preferences stemming from 
ii\r c C ! a distinctive systems of dispositions, defined as much by their 
ci a i ac, °nship as by the relationship between each of them and irs so- 
ta*hi . ' ons of production. The indicators measuring culrural capiral 
var y* of couise, in approximately inverse ratio to the indicators of 


■— ^ W X ^ p- *• X TT 

— e c * ■- c c .e e 

pm ™ hi *^ s *-* n 

c E-2^ c E — it F 



i c capiral) make rhe strongest contribution to rhe constitution of 
c^ n fjnor (which represents 5.8 percent of the total inertia as against 
th e \jLjefil and 3,2 percent respectively for the second and third fac- 
3.6 H <rfaj$ op the left side of figures 1 1 and 1 2 are those who, with the 
f° incomes, have the greatest competence, who know rhe largest 
*°^her of musical works (6 percent) and composers ilJ percent), who 
<&* rbe works demanding the 'purest' aesthetic disposition, such as rhe 
rtLfg^ed Clavier (1.8 percent) or rhe Art of Fugue (1.7 percent), 
re most capable of applying this aesrhctic disposition to less conse- 
*k° arcas ^ 5UCn a s song or cinema or even cooking or interior decora 
cCSt wn0 are interested in abstract painting, visit the Modern Art 
rl * U(tl atd expect their friends ro be artistic (2.4 percent). On the 
. side ^f those who receive the highest incomes and have the lowest 
mpctcn cc * "ho know few musical works or composers, like rheir 
)n Is f0 be conscientious (1.5 percent) and whose rastes run to second- 
It declasse or classical works of bourgeois culture — LArlhitnne 
(1 percent), the Blue Danube (2,9 percenr), La Traviata (2.1 percent), 
the Hungarian Rhapsody, Buffet, Vlaminck, Utrillo, Raphael (23 per- 
cent), Watteau, Uonardo — and to light opera — Guerary (1-8 percent), 
Manano — or the most 'popular' singers — Petula Clark (2.2 percent). 
It can be seen intuitively that these indicators of rhe different lite-styles 
fall into a pattern which corresponds to the structure of the space of life- 
styles as it has been established, and therefote to the structure of posi- 
tions, And indeed, in terms of individuals, the most clear cut opposition 
is set up between the commercial and, to a lesser exrent, rhe industrial 
employers, and the higher-educarion teachers and artistic producers, who 
ut virtually indistinguishable at this level of analysis. The clusters of 
points representing the members of the same fraction are distributed in 
P 6 expected pattern, 5 Projection of the determinants of position (in- 
come, Qualifications, social origin, age) as supplementary variables con- 
tort*! that this structure corresponds to the structure of the distribution 
fte types of capital; educational capital is distributed along the first 
»i from zero qualification to post-licence degrees, while incomes have an 
^ SttC (but less dispersed and nOn-linear) distribution. 

. c m dusrrial and commercial employers closest to the exttemiry of 
rst axis are those in whose overall capital cultural capiral has least 
h a A .'• those situated close to the professions are heads of businesses 
e tc) '"j? cu " Ura l goods (antique-dealers, record-dealers, the book trade 
fact * P° ssess ' n £ greater culrural capital than the average for their 
c ht c fnce otgrande kole). Except for those who sell cultural goods, 

other tt * erc ' a ' employers are very close ro middle brow culture in an- 
c t>c es , ij^ 1 (broughr out by the rhird factor) in their cultural prefer - 
&tr on*i - ® a ##&& Guerary, Petula Clark) and also in the choices most 
r hey jj,, tnv olving ethical dispositions ( m their ideal interior or friend 
qualities often chosen by the working and middle classes, such 

as 'easy to mainrain', 'practical', and 'conscientious*, level -headed 1 
this respect they are opposed ro the industrial employers, who arc 1 ^ 
overall to bourgeois taste. ,0 *er 

It is ccrrain thai, with respect to culture, language and life-style, the b^T"*"* 
ary with the working classes is much less marked, and situated much ' 
higher, in the self-employed sector (especially in the commercial occurs 
rions) than among wage-earners> where it appears at the level of clerical 
workers. As in their eaiing habits, small employers are much closer ro t >, 
working class in their speech, their tastes (for sport, music-hall etc.) anr i 
their values than clerical workers, who are much more strongly opposed 
the working class in all rhese respects but much closer in rheir political ° 
sitions. " 

The higher-education teachers, who have very high competence even 
in less consecrared areas, such as cinema, occupy the other extremity r 
rhe first axis. Their preferences are balanced between a certain audacity 
and a ptudent classicism; they refuse the facile pleasures of right-bank 
tasce without ventutmg mto the artistic avant-garde, exploring v^ 
coveries' rather than 'discoveries', the rarest works of the past rather rhan 
rhe contemporary avanr-garde (warm, studied, imaginative interior 
Braque, Picasso, Breughel and sometimes Kandmsky, Firebird Suite, An 
of Fugue, Weil- Tempered Clavier ) . 

The members of the professions occupy an intermediate position and 
divide into two sub-groups differing mainly in respect of cultural capita! 
The larger group, siruated near the pole occupied by rhe artistic pro 
ducers, mainly includes Parisian architects, barristers (awcats), doctors 
(and only a few dentists or pharmacists); the second sub set, closer to rhe 
employers" pole, iatgely consists of relatively old provincials, dentists, so- 
licitors (notaires) etc. The former choose, for cxampfc. the rarest works, 
Braque, Kandinsky, the Cmterto for the Left Hand, the most *intcllct tua * 
films (Exterminating Angel, Sahatore Giuiiano), and very ofren know the 
directors of the films mentioned, whereas rhe lattet declare the ^0$ 
banal preferences of middle-brow taste, Vlaminck, Renoir, the Blue Bf*' 
ube, and see 'wide audience' films (Les dimanchei de Vitlt d'Avray) or hiy 
rorical spectaculars (J be Longest Day), . 

Thus, given that the differences linked to rhe overall volume o( Ca P l 
are partially neutralized (by the facr that the analysis is applied to 
members of the same class, who are roughly equal in this respect). c 
individual's position in the space defined by rhe first two factors <? c f*? f 
essentially on the structure of his assets, that is, on the relative weigh 
the economic capital and cultural capital he possesses (axis i)* * n *^. 
social trajecroiy (axis 2), which, through the corresponding mCK \\^| u re 
quisition, governs his relationship to those assets. 6 The greatest a TT Jjs 
contributions to the second factor are made by the indicators or t 

s associated with more or less seniority in rhc bourgeoisie; mainly 
P° S % 0$ in r ^ c re ' at ' on t0 Icgiiimare culture and in rhe nuances of rhc 
i ^*£ living r ^ c y separate individuals who have much rhe same volume 
i& °l u ral capital. Withm each fracrion, rhe second facror opposes those 
o* tU j ua ]$ whose families have Jong been members of the bourgeoisie to 
1 ftho have recently entered ir, rhe parvenus: rhose who have rhe su- 
rt 10 ^ privilege, seniority in privilege, who acquired rheir cultural capital 

f r j v daily contact with rare, 'distinguished' things, people, places and 
.' .- to those who owe rheir capital ro an acquisitive effort directed by 



ducat ional system or guided by the serendipity of the autodidacr, 
j whose relationship to it is more serious, more severe, often more 

This (second) factor naturally distributes the fractions according to 
proporrion of rheir members who originate from the bourgeoisie or 
from anorher class: on one side rhe professions and rhe higher-education 
teachers (and, ro a lesser extent, the private-sector execurives), and on 
the othet the engineers, rhe public-sector executives and the secondary 
teachers, caregories which represenr rhe main routes (via academic sue 
ctss) into the dominant class, while rhe employers divide fairly equally 
between rhe rwo poles. The former, grouped on rhe positive side of the 
second factor, have in common the fact that they (initially) acquired 
rheir capital by familiarization within rhe family, and they present signs 
of longer anding membership of rhe bourgeoisie such as inherited furni- 
wre (3.1 percent), purchases from antique-dealers (2 A percent), a predi- 
lection for a comfortable interior and traditional cooking (1,5 percent), 
visits to the Louvre and the Modern Art Museum (1.8 percent), and a 
taste for the Comet to /or the Left Hand, which proves ro be almosr always 
associated with piano playing. The others, who owe the essential parr of 
their culture to the educational system and the relatively late learning 
encouraged and entailed by a high scholastic culture, are opposed to 
iliem by then preference for friends who are 'determined* (2-6 percent) 
^ Jsragmaric* (3.6 percent), rather than, as at the opposite pole, culti- 
vated r artistic, rheir taste for clean and tidy (3.2 percent), sober and 
tc et (i.<5 percent) interiors, and works of mainstream bourgeois cul- 
u c . such as the Sabre Dance (|,3 percent), Utrillo and Van Gogh or, in 
1 efc orc * cr ' J aco i ues Bre ' or Aznavour, BufTet and Rhapsody in Blue, all 
r Ccs °f upward mobility They are characrerized by prudent and there- 
of h tCa ^ y homogeneous choices. Never stooping to works suspected 
ra^i ,r y or vulgariry, such as VArUsicnne or the Bine Danube, rhey 
ksor y enrure int0 rhc slightly less 'canonical* works, such as VBnfant et 
tist &® 1 which are often chosen by rhe culrural intermediaries and ar 

p* Producers. 

tiori ,ect ' on °f tnc father's occupation, rhe respondent's age, qualifica- 

sjon' ' nC0rr > e ere. as illust rarivc variables shows rhat the principle of divi- 

lS indeed social trajecroty. The opposiiion is established between 

Figure 13 Varia rsofrhedominanttastc. Analysisof correspondences: simplified pl^ 
diagram of 1st and 5rd axes of inertia, 



7-11 composers 
sober, discreet 

Van Gogh 

cultural capital 

Four Seasons 

economic capital - 

f ^3(3.2%) 

7-11 musical works 


baccalaureat cultural capi tal 

3'6composers economic capital J 

Art of Fugue agreg. g. 

124- musical works 

12+ composers 
Wett-Tzmpered Cfovter 


Raphael ^1(5,8%) 

P. Dark Blue Danube 

La Tr&vmia 
2 com posers 

paint ingjv nice but difficult Guttary 

level-headed\ ^-'CEP. CAP nn qualifier 


department store 

VArie sienn t 

TKii simplified diagram only includes variables ^bicb mike an absolute contribution equal low 
greacer rhan !.$%, The only illustrative variable represented i* educational quaiil:kaiioD, 

those mcmbe*s of the dominant class who are borh older and drawn from 
the oldest or economically richest fractions (professionals, industrial and 
commercial employers), and those whose father was a clerical worker, 
junior executive or manual worker, who are relatively less rich in eco- 
nomic capital and younger (sec figure 13)- The complex relationship 
which emerges between the positions of the fractions in social space, se- 
niority in the bourg oisie and age (also linked to the first two factors k 
and which is very important in understanding a number of ethical ori^s* 
the tic differences between members of the dominant class— for exa 111 " *' 
differences in sports or clothing— becomes clear when one kno ws r ^ 3 
rhe proportion of parvenus rises as one moves from the dominant to 
dominat d fractions (and, a fortiori, the proportion of those who , 
their entry to the accumulation of scholastic capital — the dispersion 
the executives is no doubt partly due to the fact that rhe lower rne,r . 
cial origin, the more likely they are to achieve these positions af a 
rively advanced age). 7 . ( 

The third factor which, ar rhe level of individuals, sets the rnajo f; ' 

teachers and especially rhe artisrs— who are even more inclined than 
tJlC rC achers to mark their refusal of bourgeois taster — and also the com- 
& c lt \ employers, in opposition to the most typically bourgeois (by ori- 
ff jjee of residence and education) of the professionals, industrialists 

#! exec ur ' vcs fends chiefly to characterize the 'bourgeois taste' of these 

, categories by opposing it to the tastes of all the other fractions, 
* aC ripaUy co the better quipped and more daring 'intellectual taste', 
? l | SOi secondarily, to a taste defined negatively and combining features 

r middle-brow taste and popular taste (that of the commercial employ- 
v 'Bourgeois' taste, a modal taste or taste a la mode- as is shown by 

, strength of the preference for the Impr ssionist painters (4.2 per- 
c ) ( confirmed by the choice of Van Gogh (2.1 percent) or Renoir 
(1 1 percenr) — is based on an average competence (knowledge of 7 to 11 
Jvorks, 3.3 percent, and 7 to 1 1 compos rs, 3.2 p rcent). It is fundamen- 
tally a raste f° r tuition (with a prefer nee for traditional French meals, 
1 3 percent, for furniture from antique shops, 1,0 percent, for * well-bred' 
friends, 1.5 percent) and a sort of temperate hedonism (e.g., irs favourite 
interior is comfortable but also sober and discreet, 1.8 percent, and cosy, 
12 percent), moderate even in its audacities (with the choice of the Fire- 
ford Suite or Rhapsody in Blue, 1.3 percent, or the preference for -prag- 
matic' friends, L7 percent — as opposed to Artistic'). It is chiefly defined 
by opposition to a set of indicators which characterize a culture that is 
both more 'schobsuc' (knowledge of 12 ot more composers, 3 percent, 
knowledge of 12 or more works, 1,9 percent, preference for Leonardo, 1.6 
percent etc.) and — relatively— more daring (with Kandinsky, 1.4 per- 
cent, and Picasso, 1.3 percent), but also more ascetic (Goya or the Well- 
TmfcreU Clavier, furniture from the Flea Market etc.). 

The Modes of Appropriation 
of the Work of Art 

out thjs statistical analysis would not really fulfil its purpose of verifica- 

? lf it did nor help one to understand the underlying logic of the dis- 

utions it establishes;, if, having proved that volume and structure of 

, p,ra1, synchronically and diachronically defined, constitute the princi- 

io 1 division of practices and pr rerences, it were nor possible to bring 

an ^ r tne intelligible, 'socio-logical' relationship between, for example, 

| J^rrierric asset structure biased towards culture and a particular re- 

Mhr V° ^ e WOr k °^ attl anc * t0 cx pki n « cnat ' s > understand completely, 
XfJ c most ascetic form of the aesthetic disposition and the culturally 
£oinp e £ mmace an d conomically cheapest practices, e.g., museum 
fcn*- ° r> in s P orl » mountain-climbing or walking, ar likely to occur 
ttpit "'any frequently among the fractions (r lauvely) richest in cultural 
^d (relatively) poorest in economic capital- 

A Cosy Samovar-Style 

Jsabetle d'Ornana, the Mtmster^i 
thterin-litw, has made her bedroom the 
centre- pme of her apartment. A 
baroque masterpiece. 

'I know how I want ro live. Decora- 
rion is a way of expressing it.' 
Scorning fashion and its conven- 
tions, she has applied this principle 
through out her apartment — a rhap- 
sody of colours, imiration green 
marble and Venetian blinds — and 
especially in her bedroom An al- 
most timeless and yet very up-ro- 
date room, which also serves as Isa- 
belle's srudy when she is working 
(marketing the 'Sisley T range of cos- 
metics her husband launched three 
yeais ago), as a TV room for her 
five children and sometimes, since it 
communicates with the reception 
rooms, as a second salon for big din- 

ner parties. Originally it was a big 
dull library, sumpruous and boring; 
she has turned it imo something 
warm and 'cosy\ as she puts if. 

First, by having a circular balcon 
built around the walls almost half 
way up. . .By organizing move 
ment in the room around a centre- 
piece: the bed. And quite a bed it 
is! Isabelle d'Ornano likes 'mus- 
cular' furniture and wanted 4 a bed 
which suggests a gondola ' Her up 
holsrerer had his work cut out for a 
year and a half! 

By flouting all the classical rules 
and combining different styles of 
furnirure — in fact, every style A 
Louis XVI inbid roll-rop desk, 
upholstered 'rub' easy-chairs and ^ c ' 
ond Empire fireside chairs, an cnor 
mous eighrecnrhccntuiy crystal 
chandelier from the La Granja 
works, bought from a Madrid an- 
riquc-dealer, one or two little late - 
ninetcenth-cenruiy English stands 

holding plants, books and an orchid 
f*itiC on 'y fl° wcr ( hat lasts'), two 
*)ass lamps bought for a song at 
potior, with modern shades, rwo 
: cr ed bedside cables recently ordered 
• jj, a cabinet maker. 

gy mingling colours and fabrics 
*ich a certain audacity 

gy sprinkling the ensemble, not 
^ith knick-knacks ('they're point- 
less*) but wirh dozens of photos . . , 
y$[i\\ wicker baskets full of bric-a- 
brae With children's mugs bristling 
^ith pencils. With novels, exhibi- 
tion catalogues, magazines on inte- 
rior dfcorarion (she curs out the 

useful addresses and sticks them in 
scrapbooks), scartcred at! over rhe 
place. And other very peisonal de- 
tails, such as rhe painted faience tiles 
surrounding rhe chimney-piece . . , 
In short, by adopting an original, 
peisonal style of decoration. So 
much so that designer Henri Sam- 
uel, who acted as technical adviser, 
replied, when 1 asked him to define 
this bedroom: 'It's pure d'Ornano, 
and that's a compliment 1 

D dc Sairtt-Sauveur, Lt Figatv-AUgazme 
{Madam Figaro), 7 October, 1978. 


One's immediate intuition should be followed — for rhe purpose of 
resting it— when it sees in rhe reachcrs' taste for the austerity of pure 
works, Bach or Braque, Brccht or Mondrian, the same ascetic disposition 
that is expressed in all their practices, and when it senses in these seem- 
ingly innocent choices the symptom of a similar, but merely better- 
hidden, relationship to sexuality or money; or when it divines the whole 
view of rhe world and of exisrencc that is expressed in the taste for the 
delights of boulevard theatte or rhe Impressionists, for Renoir's rosy 
women, Boudin's sunlit beaches or Duty's stage sets. 

As is clearly seen in theatre or painting (but the same is tiue of the 
other arts), what emerge through the discontinuous or disparate indices 
which have to be used to lake measurements are rwo antagonistic rela- 
tions to the work of art or, more precisely, two modes of aesthetic appro- 
priation expressing two opposite asset structures. Thus, how is one ro 
explain why the median price paid fot a theatre ticket rises from 4.17 
francs among teachers (less than is paid by junior executives in the pri- 
vare sector, 4. 61, and the public sector, 4,77) to 6.09 for public-sector se- 
nior executives, 700 for the professions, 7.58 for private-secror 
^ccutives, 780 fe r commercial employeis and 9. 19 for industrialists — 
whjch gives one the ordinary hierarchy of the fractions distributed by 
v olume of economic capiralr And how does one explain why the hierar- 
chy of rhe fractions is inverted if their rate of representation in the 

h ea Pest theatres is considered? If the elective affiniry berween relatively 
^expensive avant-garde theatre and rhe intellectual fractions, or between 

tot much more expensive boulevard theatre and rhe dominant classes is 

ijjderstood supecficially — i.e., as simply a direcr effect of the relationship 

T^veen economic cose and economic means- -one is liable to fotget thar 

r °ugh the price rhey arc willing to pay for access to a work of art, or, 

more precisely, through the relationship between the material cost 
the expected 'cultural* benefit, each fraction expresses its concepti ^ 
what specifically makes the value of the work of art and of" the legjiw ^ 
way of appropriating it. ** 

The same logic explains why the desired price makes the strongest absol, 
contribunon to the first facror brought to light by analysis oft he torn> 
spondences of a set of characteristics of a sample of Parisian theatres ^i 
rheir audiences (C.S, XIV). Or again, why the propensity to judge the aj 
mission charge of a museum as being cheap or very cheap rises veiy 
strongly, m relation to the ordinaiy hierarchy, as one moves from the frae 
ttons (relatively) rich in cultural capital to those rich in economic capital 
with the professions being distinguished only by a bi-modal distribution 
(reasonable — very cheap). 

For certified or apprentice intellectuals, activities such as thearre-goint 
visits to exhibitions or 'art' cinemas, performed with a frequency and reg- 
ularity which take away any 'exrra-ordinary' quality, are in a sense g ov . 
erned by the pursuit of maximum 'cultural profit' for minimum ^q. 
nomic cost, which implies renunciation of all ostentatious expense and 
all gratifications other than those given by symbolic appropriation of the 
work ('You go to rhe theatre to see the play, not to show oft your ward- 
robe/ as one of them said). They expect the symbolic profit of their 
practice from the work itself, from its rariry and from their discourse 
about it (after the show, over a drink, or in their lectures, their articles or 
their books) T through which chey will endeavour to appropriate part of 
its distinctive value. By contrast, for the dominant fractions a 'nighr out' 
at the theatte is an occasion for conspicuous spending- They 'dress up to 
go out' (which costs both time and money), rhey buy the most expen- 
sive scats in the most expensive theatres just as in other areas they buy 
'the best there is'; they go to a tesraurant after the show 9 Choosing a the- 
atre is like choosing rhe right shop, 10 matked with all rhe signs of 'qual- 
iry' and guaranteeing no 'unpleasant suiprises' or lapses of taste': 3 
playwright who knows his job, who commands 'the springs of corned)'* 
the potential of a situation, rhe comic or biting force of rhe mot juste , »" 
shorr, a goldsmirh or jeweller, a past master in the 'art of const rue" 011 
who has 'the tricks of the dramatists art' at his fingertips; 1 ' actors kno w(l 
for their ability to enter the 'twenty-four carat* role he offers them ana w 
place rhe eager docility of a perfect thespian technician at the 'service 1 o J 
the polytechnician playwright; 12 and a play which 'gives every sorr oi CO- 
joyment T without a hint of self-indulgence or vulgarity 1 , which i* *** 
signed to 'relieve a well-balanced audience by bringing it back l fl 
balance with healthy laughrer', because it only asks questions which c 
etyone asks himself, from which 'rhe only escape' is 'humour and inC" r 
able optimism*. 

5C cn (in order of preference): I. 




■^".flattniL^: " ■ 

u hano 


' '^jf V d'Avray 
** i. h,lirwc 

SmaaW* homme 
H rmi at Peking 

Vwigci Biarnti 

It boutinicr de5 lies 
VdC and Virtue 

faiptfjal Venus 


Divorce Italian Style 
The Trol 

Lcs dim. de V. d'Avray 
Rocco and His Brothers 
Exterminating Angel 

The Leopard 

The Magnificent Seven 

The Longest Day 

Singing in the Rain 
The Suitor 

Ballade pour tin voyou 
le glaive et la balance 
Salvaiorc Giuliano 

Vice and Virtue 

Imperial Venus 
55 Days ai Peking 

Voyage a Biarritz 
L'abominable homme 
Le boucanier des lies 

Industrial and 
commercial employers 

The Longest Day 

Divorce kalian Style 
55 Days at Peking 

The Trial 

Vice and Virtue 

Rocco and His Brothers 
Le glaive et la balance 
Singing in the Rain 
The Suitor 

Les dim. de V. d'Avray 
The Leopard 
Exterminating Angel 

L'abominable homme 
Ballade pour un voyou 
The Magnificent Seven 
Voyage a Biarritz 
Salvatore Giuliano 

Le boucanier des lies 
Imperial Venus 

rtar ire trie films t hotcn by the Parisians. The respondents from the Lille area were offered a different list 
biKd on the films then showing); their choices were organized in a similar structure. 

The implications of the opposirion between bourgeois rheatre and avant- 
garde theatre have already been explored (see chapter 4). To remain within 
the limits of the data provided directly by the survey, we may glance ai the 
opposjtrons found in the field of the cinema (see figure 14), where the rasre 
fot 'amhitvous* works thai demand a large cul rural investment is opposed to 
the Hire for the most spectacular feature films, overrly designed to entertain 
(differences which are often accom panied by differences in admission prices 
and m the geographical location of the cinemas). No doubt rhete are some 
all purpose ft| ms which gain rhe unanimous approval of the various fine? 
Ilon s of the dominant class (and their critics)— in the I isi ottered, The 
Tr&i, ' a strong, solemn work of intellectual courage, not to be missed' {Le 
™w&, 25 December 1962), Rocto and HH Brothers, by Vtsconri, with Alam 
}p'on. and Divorce Italian Style, with Mastroianri, an oonest commercial 
J™' for Qtmktt (2 June 1962), a comedy 'of astonishing cynicism, cruelty 
j auda cn y' for Le Monde (22 May 1962). However, there are veiy marked 
cr g c nces of cinematic taste between the two exrrcmiiies. with the profes- 
ns - as usual, in rhe middle Thus the industrial and commercial employ- 
of l c historical films, like The Longest D*y, a 'colossal reconstruction' 
j rhc most spectacular battle 1 of World War II (Le Monde, 12 October 
J| *)■ 'blockbusters' like M Days at Peking, 'an excellent example of box- 
<e fnovie.making\ 'sumptuous spectacles, deliberately st tipped of imclloo 

tual content, which show to packed audiences because rhey know how 
appeal to the public's capacity fot wonderment' (Le Monde, \l May |jj^ 
'commercially successful' films like Vadim's Vue and Virtue, a 'solidly c 
srructed film of undeniable virtuosity' which 'makes a moderate 5adj S m 
available to all' {FraneeSotr, 2 March 1963), and comic films and acfor 
FernandeJ, Dairy Cowl etc. By contrasts the secondary teachers, who < a I 
mosr always name rhe directors and actors of the films chcy have seen 
temarically exclude popular comedies and big commercial successes, ^d 
give rheir preference to 'classic' films (almost all consecrated ijj hisi 0r j. 
the cinema) such as Hunuel's Exterminating Angel, which the Le Mond% 
criric (4 May 1963) compares to Sartre's Hun Cfos, Sahatore Gtuiliam t * 
enthrallmg and very beaunful film by Francesco Rosi which retra ccs a m( . 
menr in Sicilian life with rhe rigour of an historian and the lyricism f 
arris r* (Le Monde, 6 March 1963) and finally The Suitor, a comedy by Pi Crj 
Etaix, which the critic predicts will 'one day take its place in theg rCat fr2 
dition which runs from Mack Sennert to Tan, v'a Max Under, Chadin. 
Keacon and a few others' {Le Monde, 16 February 1963). It is significant 
that in order ro justify the injunctions which alert readers expect from W, 
ous' newspapers ('essential viewing', 'not to be missed' etc.), a phrase can 
be used in one place ('certainly nor a harmless entertainment' — Le Monde 
25 December 1962 — ahour The Trial) which in another would be \ 
irrevocable condemnation. 

In contrast to 'bourgeois' theatre, the opera or exhibitions (nor tc 
mention premietcs and gala nights), which are the occasion or pretext 
for social ceremonies enabling a select audience to demonsrrate and expe- 
rience its membership of high society in obedience to the integrating and 
distinguishing rhythms of the 'society' calendar, the art museum admits 
anyone (who has the necessary cultural capital), at any moment, without 
any consrrainrs as regards diess, thus providing none of the social gratifi- 
cations associated with great 'society' occasions. Moreover, unlike the 
rheatre and, especially, music-hall and variety shows, it always offers the 
purified, sublimated pleasures demanded by the pure aesthetic and, rather 
like the library in this respect, it often calls for an austere, quasi-scholastic 
disposition, oriented as much towards the accumulation of experience 
and knowledge, or the pleasure of recognition and deciphering, as to- 
wards simple delight. 

The middle-class visirois and the teachers — and secondarily rhe eng/i |Cef ^* 
are those most inclined to associate rhe museum with a library ('What do 
like mosr? A library, [f contams works of value and you need to wanr to 
go there.' Engineer, Cambtai, age 44, Lille Museum). The same gtoups are 
mosr inclined to combine contemplation with acrs of recording (eg*./*** 
irig notes) and accumulation (e.g., buying reproductions). One also nrK "S 
thar rhe reachers are rhose who mosr often refuse to dissociate direct C *F* 
ence of rhe work from erudite knowledge (they are rhe ones who most 
often refuse rhe judgement, 'I don'r need to know who painted the P'c r 
or how; whar counrs is wherher it js pleasurable to look at'). 

a-hind the obligatory exaltation of the ausrere severiry of rhe musem 
A the 'medirarion' ii encourages, there are sometimes glimpses of the true 
i^ _ f the visit — an always somewhat laborious task which rhe devotees 
w* u . cmsc lves and duly perform wirh methodical determination, rewarckd 
s ^ t uch W mc sense °f a duty done as by the immediate pleasure of con 
** -l a non, 'The museum left me with an impression of silence. Emptiness, 
lC but perhaps because of the silence. That helps you concentrate on the 
f0 °rks> helps em s ^ ' nro y° u " ' wasnc fowled over by it, it's very te- 
r u s * 1-ooking at everything systematically is tiring. It was a self-imposed 
j! pline l [ 's constraining and you ger indigestion. I think I got through 
j C jcly because 1 wanted to be able to tell myself Td done that museum. 
r #as wy monotonous, one picture after another. They ought to put 
mct hing different in between the paint irigs to break it up a bit 1 {cngi- 
ccl Amiens, age 39, Lille Museum). These commenrs are reminiscent of 
those of the conservator of rhe New York Metropolitan Museum, who sees 
his museum as l a gymnasium in which rhe visitor is able ro develop his eye 

It is understandable that as one moves from avant-garde concerts or 
plays, museums with a high transmission level and low tourist appeal or 
avant-garde exhibitions to specracular exhibitions, major concerts or the 
classical* theatres, and finally to the boulevard theatre and variety shows, 
rhe rate of representation of the different fractions distributed in order of 
decreasing cultural capital and increasing economic capital — i.e., teachers, 
administrative executives, engineers, professionals, industrial and com 
mcrcial employers — tends to change systematically and continuously, so 
that the hierarchy of the fractions distributed by their weight in the pub 
lie tends to be inverted. 1 '* The teachers and the industrial or commercial 
employers occupy symmetrically opposite positions in rhe diagrams of 
correlation between the rares of attendance at r«*o categories of shows 
presenting opposite properties: on the one hand, concerts and art exhibi 
nons, on the other, variety shows and trade exhibitions. In each case rhe 
^embers of the professions and the senior executives are in an interme- 
diate position. The professions, under-represented in use of libraries and 
n ] u seums ( are more represented among exhibition visitors than museum 
v 'str rs r and go ro rhe theatre relatively frequently (ro 'boulevard' plays 
0r musicals rarher rhan classical or avant-garde theatre). 

*" e museum, a consccrared building presenting objects wirhheld from 
pnvare appropriation and predisposed by economic neutralization to un- 
cr So the 'neutralization' defining the 'pure* gaze, is opposed co the 
mercial 3 rr gallery which, like other luxury emporia ('bouriques', an- 
*] w shops etc.) offers objects which may be contemplated but also 
o U gh r j u8t as rhc 4 p ure . acS thetic dispositions of rhe dominated frac- 
ns or the dominant class, especially teachers, who are strongly over- 
presented in museums, are opposed to those of rhe 'happy few' in the 
w "J'nant fracrions who have the means of marerially appropriating 
s of arr. The whole relation to the work of art is changed when the 


"^■^""■^■^^^"■i* "*"*■*■*■■ 

A Grand Bourgeois 
'Unique among His 

S,, a lawyer aged 45, is the son of a 
lawyer and his family belongs to the 
Parisian grandt bourgeoisie. His wife, 
the daughter of an engineer, studied 
at the Paris Political Science Insti- 
tute and does nor work. Their four 
children are at rhe 'best' privare 
Catholic secondary schools in Paris. 
They live in a very big apartment 
(more than 500 square metres) in 
the I6rh arrondissement: a very 
large entrance-hall, a spacious living- 
room, a dining-room, a study, and 
the bedrooms (his office is nor in 
rhe apartment). 

In the living-room, modern furni- 
ture (big cushions, a large couch, 
armchairs), antiquities, 'a Greek 
head in stone, authentic and rather 
beautiful* (a wedding presenr), an 
object which the head of the house- 
hold calls his 'personal altar" ( L a 
rather attractive religious thing I 
managed ro get off my parents' — his 
father collects all sorts of objers 
d'art, and has bought, among other 
things, *a)l sotrs of stuff, enamel- 
work, chalices, crosses . . . from a 
sorr of Russian, a dealer'), *a terra- 
cotta thing from rhe Tang dynasty', 
bought from an antique shop in 
Formosa where he went accompa- 
nied by ten specialists, several paint- 
ings, a Paul Serusiet ('It is rather 
chatming but, rhar said, I'd just as 
soon put a modern picture in its 
place'), in the dining-room a Dutch 
still life. 

'Unique among its kind* 

When he buys objets d'art, 'it's in 
no way an investment.' What 



is for him is 'first of «ii 
^.„ty of the thing, tj lc objJ hL 
secondly, not whethet j t ^ \* *n$ 
but whether it's made in a c n ?^. 
manlike way': 'you can |ftg|J ! "*■ 
ag2m, but you can also make*' 
of it. So it becomes uniqu c a JJ j** 
its kind, because you can't t^J^^ 
same object, the same subject ^ 
. What makes the beauty f ^ 
face, the beauty of a sculp miCi - 

the smile, the look Y 0u ' , 

do it twice. You can make z p| J. 
copy but you can't do it again m 
the same material, the material 
counts more, anyway as much as ^ 
mass ... I'd love to own a very fa 
bronze. There ate bronzes thai arc 
absolutely extraordinary.' 

'The nouveau-riche approach' 

He does nor often visit commercial 
galleries and does not 'systemati- 
cally' inspect antique shops or the 

" AH these intcrvirvk* (this one and those 
of the same type that follow) were earned 
our in 1974, with rhe aim of collecting, is 
systematically as possible, the most ngmfc 
cant features of each of the life-styles that 
had emerged from analysis of the survey, 
which had already reached a fatrly advirtccd 
stage Given previous knowledge ot the 
generative formula of his or her ptaf** 1 ** 
and practices, it was decided to lead the fc 
icrviewee {who was often a relation °J ' '. 
quuntance of the interviewer) method ■" 
towards the most central areas oi his of 
life si vie (hence the hetcrogeneitv at J& 
themes discussed, which contrasts *« 
forced homogeneity of statistical ^Jf*^ 
data ) This was done by supply'"* *" fE , 
reassurances and reinforcements that _^ 
pec ted in ordinary life from s0rne °^f fen tr»|E 
whom one Yonhdes" Finally, by »? ^ 
rhe discourse, through alternating u*^. 
direct, semi-direct and indirect qw"^ ^g 
the aim has been to intensify an £ fttf&& 
palpable the concrete image of ine ^rtf* 1 
atk totality, the lifestyle, which «» ^ 
analysis dissolves even as it bnngs l 

auction rooms. He buys (an 
pr^ 1 . „, a P'fcc of furrururc . . -) 
Jtp jr pleases him at rhac mo- 
K^.^ue is somewhar condescend- 

^ Lut pe°P lc Wh0 4wanr t0 
ifd T . n d haven't got the time'; 

'^ haven't got the rime CO be 
W , ]y inrefcsrcd. Whar cssen- 
P^^Jrcsrs them is not what 
i i^y in thcn1 but what has value.' So 
•f 'dub together and 'pay in — 
tcs a /ear. They delegare orher 
\c to purchase for them. On 
f^pne hand, investment, and on 
'L other, rotal incompetence. If 
L stuck a piece of shit on the 
wall, if would be all rhe same to 
rhem « Jon S ** som€Qnc c <" lls thcm 
ibe shit is worrh money That's 
(he nouveauriche approach, 
wanting to show off that you've got 
something or that you're capable 
of having something. It's like hiring 
in interior designer, delegating 

'You've looked for it for a long 
time and 2< last you've found it' 

Toe object has an inward value, an 
emotional value, when you've 
wanted it, looked for ir, for a long 
rune '{^ ar was wnar vou wanted 

M U last, by a stroke of luck, 
you've found it . , it's a revda 
tfcn, . When it's for my pleasure, 
Pncc doesn't come into ir, ir's like 
I "S™ (a gadget, it's electronic), 
*anr lt and 1 have it . . . Once 
©■m, you normally keep wichin 
c:h ur means; ] wouldn't buy 
G?f ^thedral ! (He would 
r fn 0v ed to own a church and 
fuj , c if Whar I find beauri- 
v lu i S sronc * the shape of rhe stones, 
cp3 , $r0nc ^ beautiful/ He 
Ho | 0n 0m a Catholic family but 
Suen ( ^ r . Practices, he makes foe- 
«»iccs \ romc religious tefer- 

Tor my personal enjoyment* 

For his country house in Burgundy, 
a very big one ('a thousand square 
metres to furnish, after all!*), almost 
a 'mistress', he boughr furniture 
from 'a rag -and-bone man': 'I came 
across a chap, a junk dealer, who 
had solid wood f urniture, real coun- 
rty-sryle, and 1 bought other birs 
and pieces, stuffed animals'* includ- 
ing stuffed boars 'which outraged 
everyone, except me . ... because 
rhey are funny, Pleasure is what is 

Tm irritated by people who buy 
things just ro show rhem ofi, to say 
rhey've got them or pur rhem in a 
particular place. The value isn't 
what counts, it's the pleasure it 
gives you. .1 boughr the boars for 
my personal enjoyment, or simply 
because I found it was funny, a 
joke, or because ir annoyed other 
people.' Thr house is 'too damp to 
pui a decent piano in it* but he is 
'going to gel a grand piano. ... At 
the casino, they are rhrowmg out 
old grand pianos . . . perhaps rhey 
have i nore or two missing.' 

Heirlooms? Don't make mc 

The inherited objects wirh which he 
has furnished rhe house are of lirrlc 
interest to him. When his wife re- 
minds him that rhcre are some, he 
replies; *Heirlooms? Don't make mc 
laugh, rhere have been rhiee bits of 
furniture* She enumerates them: 
**When we were getting married, 
Aunt X, popped ofi'. I inherited a 
certain amount of silver first legacy- 
Then there was Madame C: second 
legacy. Then Mademoiselle L.: third 
legacy* 'So we have a certain 
amount of china, old birs and pieces 
and furniture. Furnirure has never 
been much of a problem for us be- 

cause we inherited a certain amount. 
Fourth legacy, my in-laws gor rid of 
some of their property. We got 
some armchairs. . . .' 

If he does not like this furniture, 
he 'chucks if out': "not too much 
clutter 1 . 'You need a big enough 
apartment, rooms which allow you a 
certain inner silence, uncluttered, 
and then on rhe other hamd. you 
need rooms containing all the per- 
sonal objects which are never souve- 
nirs — they can go into the 
dustbin — but objecrs you like to 
have around you.* He 'detests travel 
souvenirs' and never brings any back 
(*excepr the thmg J just mentioned, 
the Chinese terracotta. . . I've 
bought lirtle knick-knacks and tin- 
kers that we've distributed to all 
amd sundry, bur we've never clut- 
tered ourselves up. . . . Looking 
around, you wouldn*t know we'd 
travelled. The locaJ souvenir, 
bought on the spot, has no interest 
whatsoever'). Resides, when you're 
travelling, it's better to keepan 
open mind. *walk around with your 
hands in your pockets and look 
around you, but without having 
one eye glued to a view-finder' (in 
rhe Far East, his wife recalls, l wc 
took photos', but, she aidds, 'we 
looked ar them, showed them round 
once or twice*, and now rhey are *ar 
the bottom of rhe cupboard'). 

'Many Hours in museums, 
for the pleasure of it, 
in Holland and Italy' 

He has a painting studio in which 
he spends a loi of time ('He likes 
twirling a brush', his wife empha- 
sizes), but he considers his efforts 
l of no interest and prefers not ro 
tailk about them On'the other 
hand, he readily confe ses to having 
spent 'many hours in museums, for 
rhe pleasure of ir, in Holland and 

Italy.' He was 'very struc^ ^ 
cared, by kalian painting ' u ' 
nardo, Venetian and Sienese 
paintings, all the piaures m , 
Villa Borghesc, Botticelli.' ^ hc 
also 'very responsive to D u r C h '* 
ing because of its character k ^ n *' 
Hals, Rembrandt. It's a total/*!!* 
fcrent sort of painting, ] ai( j Q jJ d|f - 
much thicker. . There ate a^ 
some Matisse and Cocreau J r ? 
ings.' Painting 'doesn't hav c t0 I. 
figurative for him ro appreciate if 
But he is left completely cold bv 
practical-joke painting', f 0r CKlr l, 
a white canvas 'slashed this way Lj 
that.' His wife says bluntly that '$u 
doesn't call that sort of thing paint- 
ing' , whereas he is less forthrighr: 
'Well, no, it isn't paintlng j but tt'i 
a sort of art, of expression/ 

'Loving something means 
having if with you* 

For him, *a painting is something 
which can be dreamt of for a long 
time and which is always looked at 
with the same pleasure. Perhaps the 
pleasur varies depending on whit 
you are or what your mood is' 'Tr* 
criterion is whether I'd wanr to 
have ir in my home. . . , Loving 
something means having it with 
you,' And he adds; 'Pleasanr things 
ate non-necessary things I don t 
to hoard things ... I live for r ^ c 
sake of living. And, so far as po**"* 
ble, I try to live for rhe present tr& 
menr, it isn't always easy.' 

*As necessary as a cooking *°* 

He could not live without his 
system, bought more than ^Z^ 
about eieht thousand "** 

ago for 


('No one brand, it's a comb j'ju 1 
of several. I asked around an n , 
was that. Same thing for th c t • 
I asked around and rhat was * 


which is as necessary 

* '*£ °^ds music. It's a need, 
£*jJ.W.g his -cord, 'V, 
Vf fo°^ u a lot of Bach cantatas, 
> B ^u.cms, Monteverdi.' Mod- 

tn^^'docsn't mean much ro 
ttfi * uS ^causc I deliberately re- 
b,flfl. n ? ,,'j a question of attun- 
&* * ?" caR to <«.' 'Mahler Johvet, 
•^ aPC [ can cope «W, but 4 in a 
Nics5 f ufdy serial music, electronic 
1°' ° P thcr e are some things that 
[m ^hcr beautiful, and others 
w h iffin, sound to me like prac- 
^fet the same thing as ,n 


When there's an important 

work, y»u always know' 

He tardy g oes t0 conccrts an< ' ' s 
not one of those people who 'go 
*nd see things because rhcy have to 
be seen': he does nor read the re- 
vtcw* in Le Monde (his daily paper), 
but would rather trust the judge- 
nticnc and recommendation of a 
friend: 'When there's something on 
that's an important work, you al- 
ways know. You know because 
you're in conract wirh loads of peo- 
ple; that's why I don't bother to 
ttad the critics. If you read one, 
Kiu'd have ro read all of them ' He 
gently went to see One Man Show, 
^">t Italian Maoist alone on stage. 

* left at the interval because if 
^lousy ' when he does go to the 
* J*, he docs not necessarily go 
£ tor dinner a 5 well: Tou can't 

^Pteen things at the same time 
fuj| » U nave to enjoy things to rhe 

j I 

"* * high opinion of myself ' 

'iFpp u ^ s *ny sartorial ^refinement': 
ft >; »k J* *ant to sec me, it's not 


socks t 

m weaiting, my 

pocket handkerchief or the flower in 
my burronhole, or my tie, If people 
want to see me or invite me to din- 
ner, they invite me as I am. In 
other wotds, I have a high opinion 
of myself,* he explains, taking the 
opportunity to indicate once again 
his distance both from bourgeois 
taste and from the questions put to 
him by the sociologist (who be- 
longs to his safe's family). He adds: 
1 think that five hundred francs is 
quite enough tor a suit, there's no 
point in spending a thousand francs 
on a suit when personally 1 don*r 
give a damn/ 

'Cooking is a state of mind' 

He is a busy man and does not have 
much time in the middle of the 
day, he "almost wishes they'd invent 
a pill so you didn't have to ear in 
the daytime. . . Cooking is a state 
of mind.' To appreciate it, you have 
to be 'relaxed': 'Sturgeons 1 eggs, 
some Russian cooking, is quire deli- 
cious. Cooking isn't just a matter of 
food, there's also the setting. If 
you're going to eat smoked eel, it's 
more agreeable to eat it in the Am- 
sterdam fish marker than in some 
tacky restaurant . , . Real cooking, 
rhe sorr whete it takes two days to 
make a madeira sauce, where you 
keep things simmering away for 
ages, that's what 1 call cooking, and 
it's an act. But when people talk 
about cooking nowadays, they just 
mean throwing a few things to- 
gether, pulling them out of the 
freezer,, sticking them under the 
grill — that's not cooking There's no 
preparation, it isn't an art any 

'A certain liturgy' 

He likes 'hunting out restaurants* 
with rheaid of the Guide Mtchtltn 

or Gduit a Miilau and remembers 
'wines drunk rhrec years ago, a bou- 
quer, a Porr, a rather special Sainr- 
Esrcphc from a particular year': i 
have very clear memories of bottles 
from 1925 ro 1929 , . Bordeaux . , . 
I still have ten bottles of wine from 
1923 here. And four borrles of li- 
queur dared 1870/ A good bottle 
'isn't to be drunk with just anyone 
. . , It requires a certain liturgy: a lit- 
urgy to get the temperature right, 
and a iirurgy to drink it. It's a com- 
munion 1 , to be ceiebrared 'only with 
certain people, who are capable of 
enjoying it in the same way ,♦.. I'd 
father drink it on my own than 
with people who don't appreciare 
it.' 'A dinner with champagne is 
rather quaint . . A wine is varied, 
different; comparing champagne 
with wine is rather lilec comparing a 
s rr of little flute with an orchestra." 

' I prefer pleasure' 

Among the books in his library, 
'left by a grandmother 1 or 'bought 
in a sort of shop in rhe rue de Pro- 
vence', there are learher-bound 
'I7th<entury-ish > books, 'more for 

rhe beauty of the edition th 
interest of the texr Br* '*»« 
mms f Pascal's Penjhs 



tury book considered pom ^^ 
in irs day, quite amusing ♦^v*^ 
boob he now keeps j n p, ri ht *L 
'sorr of philosophical or re] 5 ?* 

so on* (about two thousand kL^ 
arc in his country house. He i 7* 
has boob on German history 1 
Algerian war. . Setting JL J| 
leather-bound sruff, the artsy* Jt 
Shelves', 'for me books are [%£* 
work with, not books for the Si 8 
of it/ He does not belong l0 an * 
clubs. ('Some people love wearjL 
uniforms, belonging to this or that 
ream or club; I'm my own man in 
individualist at all costs') He no 
longer hunts 'because y 0U have to 
go a long way, ir's rather tiring and 
it's also rarhcr expensive .' He plays 
rennis occasionally, on holiday, and 
goes skiing 'for pleasure'. 'I'm noi 
going to struggle up a mountain 
with skis over my shoulder when 
there's a ski- tow beside me, 1 like 
coming down more than going up. 
1 prefer pleasure/ 

i«. «.«.!.«-* «.«.«. «.«■«■■■*■■**» ««^^«^^„,«^,HL*^«.«?C 

painting, the sratue, rhe Chinese vase or rhe piece of antique furniture 
belongs to the world of objects available for appropriation, thus raking 
irs place in the series of the luxury goods which one possesses and enjOp 
wirhour needing to ptove rhe ddighr rhey give and rhe rasce rnC y ■ 
rrate, and which, even when nor personally possessed, belong to tnc S . 
rus attributes of one's group, decorating rhe offices one works 'O ot 
salons one frequents. 

In the pages of a journal like Omnamamt da Arts, we discover the se - 
inro which the dominant fractions insert the work of art: the uni^ers ^ 
luxury objects, distinguished and distinctive, selected and selective- 
gle issue (November 107}) we find advertised: jewels, furs, P cr ^ jrnt ?'- t |$, 
peis, tapesrries, antique furniture, clocks, chandeliers, bronzes. P° r ff t fc&&* 
iaienee, silverware, learher-bound books, luxury cars (Volvo, SM. ^ 

luxury cigarettes (Craven, Benson and Hedges, Kent, Roth- 
|Is f ' c courure (Dior Boutique and Old England), chateaux, 
o* ** ^ 3 at«. 'residences of character, "parks with lake', Champagne, Bot- 
^ ^rs. <s un Jy, brandy, cruises, movie cameras. A lavishly illustrated an- 
w<J*- , ( auctions 'f fhc Hotel Drouot or the Palais Galliera, beside 
^n^ ^^ncnts for anriquedeaicrs on the quai Voltaiire and in the Fau* 
.«# 3 ^ tr ( .H«norc. °ff cr ' n S furniture and objets d'arr', "antitue faience 
frv>?$ ^li a in\ paintings, statues, furniture and objets d*art\ An advettisc- 
jitj p° r ^ Galctie Atditti, featuring American hyper-realists, next to one 
ffl fflt - ■ iit£&\ offering 'nineteenth-century French and English furniture'; 
[bf ,LJ . " Martm-Caille (Faubourg Saint-Honore), presenting Max Agos- 
rW " p^t-lmpressi "isr born in 1914), opposite Dupont cigarette* 
up- ( a o 

' series of advertisements ranging all the way from Cognac to watches, 
mbi nation of ma ret ia I and symbolic apptopriarion confers on the pos- 
f luxuty goods a second-order rarity and a legitimacy which make 

he supreme symbol of excellence- l'irsr, Cognac "Princes de Cognac: to 
"ik about it, you need to use the ancient words of the language of Cognac 
Cham* 1'rte quality of the body of a Cognac Princes de Cognac has 
fartd, but a charnu with no far. a svelre (bartw which is ah' muscle. What 
a BotriceUi is to a Rubens. Fieur: The scent of the flower of the fine cham- 
ar-tf vine, the atistocrat of Cognac. Princes de Cognac hasyZewr, an eleganr, 
ptrifved fa"? w ' fn eloquence and breeding- FuiS mux: very old, very civilized 
osks rhar have sown ihcir wild oats, shed their excess tannin. Princes de 
Cognac has aged in futs roux. Hence its taste, dry, clean, discrecrly wooded. 
Perodw that's what we call the cellar containing the oldest reserves of 
Cognac. Princes de Cognac was btought up in the paradis of Maison Otard, 
« the Chateau de Cognac Princes de Cognac is produced in limited quanti- 
ties— only a few rhousand bottles a year— and is only found in selected 
stores and testau rants' (Connaftsance dtl Arte, November 1975, p. 16), 

Burgundy is rreaced to rhe same esoteric archaism: 'Down in Burgundy, 
tfitpffudage nmc Th C |as t ^ho f -he vintage has scarcely died away, and 
Jjjjj r ^ c vmc$ ar <* being attended to. Deftly wielding rheir secateurs, 

1 w craftsmen snip ofi'the unwanted shoots and prepare fh<: stocks to re- 
the next season's dressing; this is pondage, a delicate operation, which 
j w much dexterity and which Moillard supervises on your behalf. $e 
lard q y0ur P- casurc fr° m d* nnosc highly con$idered vineyards, Moil- 

Th Ur ^ niiies vc only entrusted to qualified distributors' (ibid., p. 200). 
a -di f0U ^ n ' s m *Sf^ty of a verbal accompaniment, preferably technical, 
con^ an esoteric, which separates informed tasting from mere passive 
P^finT^ "' r ^ e COfWKMSseuf shows himself worthy of symbolically appro 
nt^^ 'nc rarities he has the matctisJ means of acquiring: 'For some con- 
CQl >rioi tS * - rC * S ° n '^ 0T)e ^ ccf in prancc that's not many. But a teal 
8fan « the Uf IS ha ^ IO P lcasc Exc * us ' y c- And if some connoisseurs wjj| only 
J^ure ,f * avour r ° 1664. that's quite simply because 1664 gives a unique 
^ re-dijc ^ n< ^ a P^ eaSurC tnrce hundred years old - Sometimes it's good 
r (? t0 tXbV thC taSrc of Thc aurhcntic * < ibid - P 187 )- ' Few people would 

#*c. h a I" What makc5 a S ood Cognac. The Baron of rhe Chareau de 
« rhai right. In 1795 Baron Orard made rhe Chareau de Cognac 

his home ... He also found, under rhe vaults of the chateau, the ideal 
to mature his Cognac, And you realize the importance of rhat, when ^ 
know rhat a great Cognac has to age for many long years before bcc 
a V.S.O.P. Since 1793, nothing has changed at the Chateau de Cogn^S 
same vaults, the same ageing, rhe same care devoted to this grear Qw *> 
(ibid, p. 155). ***' 

The ostenrat ious, gratuitous expense implied in the put chase of a » b . 
less' object is the most indisputable way of showing the price one j x I 
pared to set on thmgs that have no price, an absolute testimony of the 
irreducibiliry of love to money which only money can buy: 'What i$ tn 
luxury? Refinement; a nece&siry for those who can afford it, and a key fJ 
those who, when they see it, train their eye, their raste, and can find it » 
the stmplesr object, a scarf, a skirr, a pair of shoes, a garment, if it i s [w 
ful But expensive? Haure c outline is absolute rigoi r and rhe absolute his 
no price' (Marc Bohan, artistic director of rhe Christian Dior company i n 

'You have ro be Perricrjoi et and own the finest vineyard on rhe slopes 
of Cramant to afford this folly and to offer it to others: a Champagne madt 
from rhe most expensive grapes in rhe world But the 78 centilitres in rh« 
18th century bottle have no price for a lover of Champagne for its own 
sake. Especially when it's an exceptional vintage' (Comtatvame da Arts, No- 
vember 1973, pi 14) 'To highlight your personally, we create luxurious, 
delieare watches . . . made only in limired editions. Each of our watches 
brings out the personality of the discriminating purchaser . You will be- 
come the owner of an exclusive, precious timepiece' (ibid , p. 81), 

One might be reading Marx, who writes: 'Man is initially posited as a 
private property owner, i.e., an exclusive owner whose exclusive owner- 
ship permits him both ro preserve his per onality and to distinguish 
himself from other men, as well as relate to them . . , private property is 
man's personal, disringuishing and hence essential existence' The ap- 
propriation of symbolic objects with a marerial existence, such as paint- 
ings, raises rhe distinctive force of ownership to rhe second power aw 
reduces purely symbolic appropriation to the inferior status of a symbow 
substitute. To appropriate a work of art is to assert oneself a the exc 
sive possessor of rhe object and of the authentic taste for mat °kP ' 
which is thereby converted into the reified negation of all those who 
unworthy of possessing it, for lack of the material or symbolic mean * 
doing so, or simply for lack of a desire to possess it srtong enough t0 * 
rifke everything for it' . ( 

The consumption of works of art, an almost too obvious illustrate 
this argument, is only one, among others, of these distinctive p& ^j 
Consider the new cult of nature which the fashion for second hom ^ 
the refusal of pet it -bout gco is tourism have brought back into favo ^ 
which has a deep affinity with the 'vieilU Prana' life-style of the m ^ 
cient* fraction among the dominant f tactions. Animals, flowers, n ^!- 
gasrronomy, environment, riding, gardening, fishing, *oenologY ' Jt 
being, ihe regal at topics of the Parisian journal Connam^ 

~ ne (which is to rhc distinguished rasting of narure as Con- 
^ (jfir i^ j\ T ti is to rhc distinguished tasting of culture), presenr an 
^ afti • , c programme of rhe legitimate objects and modes of appropria- 
e%^ a \ r0 priating 'nature*— birds, flowers, landscapes— presupposes a 
tio* 1 r he privilege of thos who have ancient roots. Owning a 
o^ rllfC ' a manot hous or grange is not only a question of money; one 
£ ^ tCai Jso appropriate ir, appropriate the cellar and learn the art of bor- 
fO u5r wribed *s *an ace of deep communion wirh the wine' which 
&*& .iv-Ucver' should have performed l ar leasr oncc\ acquire trophies, 
c***' ts f fishing, rhe skills of gardening, competences which are both 
(hC and slowly learned, like cooking or knowledge of wines, appro- 
Jfl . |— a word, the arc of living of the aristocrat, or country gentleman, 
wTffcrcnt to the passa e of time and tooted in things which last. 
'There's nothing easier than pickling gherkins, my mother claims. As 
as you pick them by a new moon, as long as you swear rhem in 
_j^n# salr for twenty four hours in a stoneware pot after tubbing them 
nth a linen doth, rhe only sorr that is rough enough. As long as you 
jjd dried bur nor bone di^ tarragon and bend chem to pack them in 
fjehtly - etc/ [Gmnaivanct de la Campagne, September 1975). A pot of 
'home-made gherkins*, 'made to grandma's recipe* and brought to the 
rablc *ifh the appropriate verbal accompaniment — as when exhibiting 
rite 'little picture by an eighteenth-century French master' spotted at the 
antique-dealer's, or rhe 'exquisite little piece of furniture* unearthed in a 
junk shop — symbolizes a squandering of time and a competence which 
can only be acquired by long frcquentarion of old, cultivated people and 
things, that is, membei'ship of an ancienr group, the sole guarantee of 
possession of all the properties which are endowed wirh the highest dis- 
rincrivc value because they can only be accumulated over time. 

What is at srake is indeed 'personally*, i.e., the quality of the person, 

*hich is affirmed in the capacity to appropriate an object of quality. 17 

*»< objects endowed wirh the greaicsr disrinctive power are those which 

toosr clearly attest the quality of the appropriarion, and therefore the 

Quality f cne j f ownCfj becaus their possession requires rime and capaci- 

which, requiring a long investment of time, like pictorial or musical 

'£) cannot be acquited in haste or by proxy, and which Therefore ap 

rh •* :hC 5urcsr indications of the quality of rhe person This explains 

activ im ^ 0rtancc wmcn tnc pursuit of disrinction attaches to all those 

p£ ,. ' w hich, like artistic consumption, demand pure, pointless ex- 

lar] Ufc ' ^prcially of the rarest and most precious thing of all — particu- 

^5 ^ those whose market value gives them least of it co 

^p namely, rime, rime devorcd to consumption or time devoted to 

ura l acquisition which adequate consumption presuppose*. 

fe *° ^r 

iltiQg t0 . r in m i n d, firstly, rhir time, despite the possibility of ahpro- 
°rher people's rime or of saving time by rationalization and by ex- 

plotting rhe freedom to avoid the effects of overcrowding by usirio u 
rimes and places, is one of the most rigorous anthropological limits Us ^l 
secondly, that rhe market value of time — more or less directly exp^j nt *> 
depending on the mode of remuneration (consultation fees, nnonthlv ^ 
or profits) — increases as one rises in rhe social hierarchy, in order to u *> 
stand the value of (he potlatch of rime. This retm can be applied to ah 
practices involving the 'granting' or 'giving* of rime to others — a n ■ '** 
rant dimension ofwhar is offered at receptions — and. of course, ro all i° r 
sure activities whose symholic value always lies parrly in the capacity t 
dominate time and money rhat is affirmed in 'taking one's time 1 , { c 
pending such valuable time to no purpose. 

Of all the conversion Techniques designed to create and accum 1 
symbolic capital, the purchase of works of art, objectified evidence *r 
'personal taste', is the one which is closest to the most irreproachable ^a 
inimitable form of accumulation, rhar is, the inrernalizarion f rjistin 
live signs and symbols of power in rhe form of natural 'distinction' at 
sonal 'authoriry* or 'culrure'. The exclusive appropriation of priceless 
works is not without analogy to rhe osreruarious desrrucrion of wealth 
the irreproachable exhibition of wealth which it permit is, simulu' 
neously, a challenge thrown down to all those who cannor dissociate 
rheir 'being' from their 'having' and attain disinrere redness, the supreme 
affirmation of personal excellence. And as is shown, for example, by the 
primacy given to literary and artistic culture over scientific or technical 
culrure* the exclusive possessors of a 'vast culture' behave no differently 
when they Bmg "mro rhe porlarch of social encounrers the time fhey have 
spenr without thought for immediate profit in exercises as prestigious as 
they are useless. 

The dominant fractions do nor have a monopoly of the uses of th 
work of arr that are objecrivcly — and somerimes Subjectively — oriented 
towards rhe exclusive appropriarion which arrests the owner's unique 
*personaliry\ Bur in the absence of the conditions of marerial possession, 
the pursuir of exclusiveness has to be content wirh developing a un, ^ c 
mode of appropriation. Liking rhe same things differently, liking a***" 
ent things, less obviously marked out for admirarion — these ate some 
the strategies for outflanking, overtaking and displacing which, by m 
taining a permanenr revolurion in tastes, enable rhe dominated. 
weaJrhy fractions, whose appropriations must, in the main, be exclu 
symbolic, to secure exclusive possessions at every moment. Intclie 
and arrises have a special predilection for the mosr risky bur also 
profitable strategies of disrinction, those which consist in assert' $ ^ 
power, which is pe uliarly rheirs, to consritute insignificant <J*3 j. 
works of art or, more subtly > rogive aesthetic redefinition to °y foe 
ready defined as art, but in another mode, by orher classes or c ^ f h 
rions (e.g., kitsch). In rhis case, it is rhe manner of consu^^g ^^fr 
ere tes the object of consumption, and a sccond-degree oelig r 

. mS the 'vulgar' arrifacts abandoned to common consumption, 
rr* 11 s strip cartoons, family snapshots, gramri, info distinguished 

^rLnctive works of culrure- 

Variants of the Dominant Taste 

eerie colouring of rhe teachers' and intellectuals' culrural practices 
t^ c clearly when rhey are replaced in the system ro which they be- 

i{ * n and when it becomes necessary ro raise the question of rhe very 
' in£ of culture and symbolic appropriation — the sublimated substi- 
*** fnr all marerial appropriations and all the fruits of the earth which 
tl)t division of rhe labour of domination leaves for rhe poor relations. 
J! an ra2onism l>erween the life-styles corresponding to the opposing 
■ of rhe field of the dominant class is clear-cur, total, and rhe opposi- 
on between the teachers and rhe employers (particularly between rhe 
lower and middle ranks of rhe two categories) is comparable ro the gap 
between rwo 'cultures' in the anthropological sense. On one side, read- 
me and reading poetry, philosophical and polincal works, Le Monde, and 
the (generally lefrish) lirerary or artistic magazines; on rhe other, hunt- 
ing or berring, and, when rhere is reading, reading France-Sofa or f'Aurore, 
Auto-journal or Lectures pour t&us. IH On one side, classic or avant-garde 
theatre (with, for example, Roger Planchon's productions of Tarmjfe or 
La retwse, Lorca's Blood Wedding or Turgencv's A Month in the Country)^ 
museums, classical music, France-Musique, the Flea Marker, camping, 
mountaineering or walking, on the other, business trips and expense- 
account lunches,, boulevard thearte (Robert Lamoureux, Marcel Achard, 
Francpise Dorin) and music-hall, variety shows on TV, commercial exhi- 
bitions, rhe auction room and boutiques*, luxury cars and a boar, three- 
star horels and spas (C S. V), And rhe style itself of rhe different cultural 
practices, rhe social philosophies and world views they imply, are seen 
mu t more clearly if one bears in mind rhe univeises of practices ro 
*mch mcv belong; if one knows, for example, rhat avant-garde theatre, 
or ce^uW poeny or philosophy, is opposed ro bourgeois rhearre or rhe 
-hall, «> the reading of historical or adventure novels or glossy mag- 
s, as the teachers" walking, camping, mountain or country holidays 
Pposcd both to rhe sec of luxury activities and goods which charac- 
- ^ old bourgeoisie — Mercedes or Volvo, yachrs, hotel holidays in 
cio s Wns ^ Jn d ro the constellation of the most expensive and presri- 

gious rulr , 7 w^..,,.^ -..« r .„.. 

Cam J ; ural ar) d materia! possessions and practices — arr books, movie 

Tnc c u_ ." 7 — q— - r r» **?*■"* 

r*l c u ^^si indicanon rhar aesrheric choices belong to the set of cthi- 

ite t2 ^ C r ^ cor< ^ Crs « mo tor boars, skiing, golf, riding or warer 
The i Wh,ch ^isringuish rhe liberal professions 

•n t^ lCcs which consrirutes a lifestyle is the opposition which emerges, 
*'*fc res e " C area lfse ^' b «ween two caregones as close ro each other 
u P^ct ro culrural capital as the members of rhe professions and rhe 

,^- ««»»*«*« »**«^ 


Luxury Trade Directory from le gout du luxe 



OiseJIcne du Pont-Neuf 

OtscllcnC Vilmorin 


Ner^e, floubce ei Cie 



Ben sin on 








Mallie dc Ponbis 




Marouam ct Ta*el 


Saba to 

Au Bain dt Diane 

Elizabeth Arden 

Harriet Hubbard Ayer 

Germain* Mom«l 
Helena Rubuwein 

Roger Vwier 





Marquise de Prcstes 

Porel n 


Prefecture d'lndrcer Loire 



Baby Dior 


Enfant \\hgt 

Petit Faune 

Pet lie Gamine he 






Lc Nam Bleu 


CluiKjue du Belvcde/e 

Vtletiftary rtt'jtta 
Cinque du Dr. Neienac 
Clinique vctennaire de 

Fondauon Windsor 
Hopiral Fregis 












Bons Settxirs 






Ets Marcrtc 









Jean -Lou is David 









Sain r -Laurent 









VanCIeef& AT*' 5 


Mors bit o 

C6te de Franc*" 

Pecrossian -- 

Maison de la Tr*" 

Car Hire 


International Sea Seivke 


S. S<HroeJ«i and J Mitignon, 
he t*&t <tu luxe ( Pans, BaJiand, 


I then took her ro the drug 
P^for an tec cream. Sipping a 
* * 5 he undertook to complete 
^^-arion. He enumerated his 
!£«#«: servants— butler, major- 
teno chauffeur, nanny, chamber- 
ed valet, cook, gardener— and 
Jleninlv "Seated their wages. 

DetnrfriC servants 




CxtJencr accord- 
ing to region 

per month 


l f 200F 


He regretted that there were 
no boxes for life at the Cotnedie- 
ftangiise an d disdained, 
Mischievously no doubt, rhe price 
of season tickers for evening-dress 

Coo »^«-Fn nw i tc 
W> IKkcli 

E**ninj(.drt» i08F 

IJ **cil manncrt 8}F 

*ith C SfXlitC ° f fas hionabic doctors, 
^ Mysterious honoraria, whether 
t^ r ' c '*™- such as Dry Hew, 
***** cy or Charti ". or psy 

**»,******> S «ba Nacht, Leibo- 

' Mnic Dolto. 


Psychoanalyst, little known 

per session 60F 
Psychoanalyst, famous 

per session, from 200F 

He described a suite overlooking 
the gatden at the Belvedere Clinic 
in Boulogne sur-Seine, where it was 
only ( oibidden to plug i n film 
projection equipment so as to avoid 
endangering the electrical system — 
but this restriction could be lifted 
by special permission of rhe manage- 

Belvedere Clinic 


Most expensive: 

including maternity waid, treatment, 
naesband usual medicines. 

Small room overlooking 

courtyard 800F 

Small room overlooking 

garden 800F 

Medium room overlooking 

garden 95oF 

Large room overlook* ng 

garden t ,000? 

Suitr Overlook! ngg a rden 1.250F 

Not included: 
Service and raxes, special medicines, 
drinks, laundry, lefcjmrjrw- etc 

U £i£l du luxt, pp. 187-189 
■ ■■■■■-■■*■-■-■■■-■.■-■■»« 


teachers. Based on rhe opposition between ethical disposftio 

sponding to different trajectories, it is reinforced and brough r CQ I ^% 

by veiy different economic conditions. ru ' T ^n 

Once one considers, in addition ro the differences in respect 

composition, those deriving from trajectory, and in panicul ar t L^' l i] 

that rhe proporrion of individuals who owe their place in rhe a C ^c* 

class to rhe accumulation of educational capital rises as one mov ******* 

the dominant fractions to the dominated fractions, it is clear whv ^ 

ers and, secondarily, engineers and executives are those most jn c r * >c ^" 

direct the ascetic dispositions developed by and for previous cultu i° 

cumulation towards further such accumulation — all the more j* 

since rheir low economic capital docs nor lead them ro expect m a 

rernative pleasures and profits. By contrast, the members of the d tO* 

sions have rhe means to realize rhe dispositions towards induing 
■ ... iii ... , "'etnee m 

luxury whJCh are associated wirh a bourgeois origin and which ate 

couraged by the requirement of occuparions presupposing a larer acn 
mutation of symbolic capita). The ascetic arisrocrarism of the reaehen 
(and public-sector executives), who are systematically oriented towards 
rhe least expensive and most austere leisure activities and towards serious 
and even somewhat severe cultural practices — visiting museums, for ex- 
ample, especially in the provinces (rather than major exhibitions, gal* 
leries and foreign museums, like the members of rhe professions)— is 
opposed to the luxury tastes of rhe members of the professions, who 
amass the (culturally or economically) mosr expensive and most presti- 
gious activities, reading expensive glossy magazines, visiting antique- 
dealers, galleries and concert-halls, holidaying in spa towns, owning 
pianos, illustrated art books, antique furniture, works of art, movie cam- 
eras, rape recorders, foreign cars, skiing, playing rennis and golf, riding, 
hunting and water-skiing. 

As in our suivcy, the rhird factor brought out by analysis of the corrcspo"" 
prices in the SOFRES survey separates all other fracrions from rhe m ^", 
bersof the professions. The lartct are particularly inclined ro luxuiy go* 6 
and acriviries, as is shown by simply listing (in order of importance) £~ 
charaaerjistics which make the Nghesr absolute contributions to this !« 
subscriprions to glossy monthly magazines, possession of a movie earn 
water-skiing, possession of a rape recorder, art books, playing tennis, sp 
holidays, bridge, hunting, skiing, riding, business cocktails etc. Since ° 
knows that magazines like Coiwa'mancr da Artj or La Maison Fr&K** ■* 
a high proportion of professionals among rheir readers (1)5 p* 1 *? 11 ^y, 
18.5 percenr) one may, in addirion, on the basis of the i°70 *"^f ^ik* 5 
arcribute to this fraction properties particularly frexjuenr among the • 
of rhese journals, such as possession of anricjuc furniture and w0 V^gf 'let- 
visits ro aucrion rooms and galleries. One also knows from the IN 
sure* survey rhar rhe members of the professions give a particularly 
number of receptions. 

rubers of tnc professions, possessing neither che competence 

fhc jjepositions needed ro reinvest effectively in the economy rhc 

( cht no mie profirs rhey derive from their cultural capital, and being 

hte* 1 \Ato 'intellectual values' by education and life-style (the)' provide a 

ft^ ftyoftion of the amateur writers), 20 find in smart sports and 

f,i|h P rec eptions, cocktails and other society gatherings not onJy in 

S 9 ^ satisfactions and< edification but also rhe select society in which 

fi nJlC ^ake and keep up their 'connections' and accumulate the capi- 
cat 1 •"*,.,. • r r j . 
^urabiJicy they need i 

h luxury, *a conventional degree of prodi- 

rti^ , ^j U rabiliry they need in order to carry on Their professions. This 
*' | onC of the cases in which 

tf J becomes, as Marx observed, a business n cessity' and 'enters into 
* fs experts^ 5 °f represenration 1 as 'an exhibition of wealth and con 
fSLept!? * a sourcc of credit.' 21 

tvsc erneric tendencies rake different forms depending on the profession, 
, jpccij.liiy and rhc place of residence. Thus, doctors, who have a savings 

rnucb higher than the national average (30 percent of disposable in- 
omc, as against 15 percenr) bur with an incomparably higher income, 
jprnd a very high percentage of their very high income, particularly on hol- 
idays (1° percent of disposable income), cars and 'consumer durables'. Very 
often owning rheir own homes (two- thirds of them do), they often own 
jccorttl homes, investment property, agricultural property, woods and land 
(hardly ever industrial companies) and jjso share*. Property purchases arc 
most frequent among rural genetal practitioners, whereas financial invest- 
ments, which generally increase wirh age, are more frequenr among sur- 
geons ami specialists, : * One may assume that surgeons and othet 
spccialisrs — especially in Paris—devote a particularly high proporrion of 

ihri/ income ro luxury expenditure, particularly rhe purchase of works of 

y Contrast, each of the teachers* choices (rheir preference for a har- 
™> n 'ous, sober, discreet interior, for example, or for simple bur well- 
arvk" mca ' s ) can be understood as a way of making a virtue of neces- 
*nd k max ' m ' z - n i> the profit they can draw from rheir cultural capital 
pmfcssf ,r T arC C ' mc ( wn 'J c minimizing their financial outlay). If rhe 
rq^ * ^o not always have the tastes to march rheir means, the 

ity ^ hardly ev et have the means to match rheir castes, and this dispar- 
"Siher ^^ CU ra ^ ^"^ economic capital condemns them to an ascetic 
l nu|^ m ( a more austere variant of the 'artist' lifers* le) which 
"^ n Ca d m ° Sr1 °^ What ' r haS ' SUDS t' :ur ' n g 'rustic' for antique, Roma 
^° Ujc - IS! PcfS - an caipcts, a converted barn for an ancestral manor 
tytCs *h ?^ ra P ns ( 0r rcproducrions) for painrings— unavowed substi- 
**-te> 2rch ^ C rca '^ P 00r P co P^ es 'cafherctte or "sparkling white* 
ttV ^n Cc C c rri fc>utes deprivation pays to possession. 23 The disparity be* 
C,ri °^a| ori0m ' c capital and cultural capital, or, more precisely, the cdu- 
P'tal which is its certified form, is undoubtedly one of the 

bur without pretending C q l 
tique' The decorating ana ^ *h 

ing of the house are mainl 

n»i t »nmininmimmm T 

A Truly Classical' 
University Teacher 

Jean L, aged 36, an alumnus of the 
Ecole Normale Supcricure, has the 
agrigaiion in physics. He is now a 
mdhr^axhtant (senior lecturer or as- 
sistant professor) in one of che Paris 
universities and lives in the north- 
western suburbs- His father (an 
agrege in grammar) was a lycce 
teacher and his grandfather a pri- 
mary teacher. His wife, a pharma- 
cists daughrer. is a denrisr. She 
reaches at the Paris Dental School 
and also runs her own practice. 

'A Louis XIII convent table 
from the Flea Market' 

Preferring 'sobriety' ;md 'discretion*, 
Jean dislikes fat cushions and heavy 
eurrains', and 'apartments done up 
by interior designers.' Heis'cruitc 
sensitive to rhe overall harmony of 
an interior 1 : 'If you're lucky enough 
to come across a really fine piece of 
furniture, you put that one piece in 
3. comer. That's alt you need for a 
whole room/ 'At home, until re- 
cently, we had cheap furnicute that 
we bought when we martied. A 
quietly modern style rhar wasn't un- 
attractive. Veneered teak, quite 
cheap, but now the chairs arc giving 
up rhe ghosr . . , Now we have one 
or rwo old bits of furniture that 
we've picked up, real antiques . . . a 
Louis XI 11 convent table that some* 
one sporred for us in the Flea Mar- 
ket, a Iouis XIII ehesr rhar isn't 
bad', found in an antique shop in 
Amiens. 'Of course, we won't be 
getring any Louis XIII chairs — for 
one thing they'te tetribly expensive, 
and anyway, if rhey're genuine, 
they're not even solid. So we'll get 
some made for us in the same style 

V lef 
his wife, who attaches a gre, 

of importance to them, '$l , ^| 
expert at that, I'm no ti espe^ j^t 
regards ptices I enjoy \ ti b U > M 
when all's said and doiie if r Uf 
on my own I don't think I'd &?* 
much time to it. I haven't e t ' e 
much of a taste fot it, but my *» 
certainly has and in the end f*?* 
preciare ir, all the same.* His wjf ^ 
very fond of old faience: Tm al**'* 
willing ro accompany her if she 
says, "Come along, let's go an j ^ 
at some porcelain." I know pj] 
enjoy it, I know she's much more 
sensitive ro it than I am, , , There"* 
one thing I'd really like to buy, I 
haven't done so yet, but I sorrvc- 
rimes look: it's old scientific instru- 
ments, because they used to make 
some remarkable rhings in the last 
century and three ot four centuries 

Td rather read something 
more concentrated' 

At home, he does a bit of amateur 
carpentry, 'out of duty'. 4 My wjfc^ 
the one who sip this or that need* 
doing, and I do it, taking ( 1 u * tt i u 'Il 
necessary trouble over it, 1 couw 
it quicker if I did it less carefully, 
but I enjoy designing things, *° 
ing rhem out and then making 

He does not have a TV SC* * 
home but manages to watch ^ njjj 
time to rime. The interesr oy 
things they're dealing * ith D, L tl 
gets diluted. On any given s^^ 
Id rathet read something ^ 
cenrrared. Still, there are som | 
things for which it's irrepl» cC 
have ro admit, 1 went ro my j^' 
mother's to see the first m°° 

like rhat ■ - • * remember 
t btflP iijj c >, for five minutes, 

*+*& \^ks like mstead of just 




reading used to be 

Afl jny i, Monde' 
^ on *-* 

^* ribes to F f $ mi Socialisie — 

$ ^bad T — » nd occasionally reads 

lf 4 5 ° f/ Obiervaleur. His wife cakes 

1/ ; f*L- ']r gives a superficial view 

^HS though some of the inter- 

% are good All my reading used 

^ base d on U Monde- I used to 


* It regularly. Hut now r don*r 
£d it every day. 1 His reading .5 
afltfwhat austere, no detective 
srories or novels; SolzhCnitsyn s 
f lri i Gntt t all the same, because my 
wfc said I ought to read it/ He has 
also recently rtad Oarhooiing Soctety 
by Ulich (It made a great impres- 
sion on me'), Qxmet and Necessity 
(Moaod ) ; iind Konrad Lorenz's On 
Aggnuiojt. He owns a UNESCO 
history of world cultures in seven or 
cighr volumes; 'It's marvellous, it 
isn't a narrative, certainly not a nar- 
rative; if there are characters and so 
on, that doesn't interest me. Archae- 
°*ogy. now. that interests me a 
**■ Something I browse in a 
good deal is the Drct/cnary of Ar* 


Tru| y classical, 
tts "*mcd things 1 

crmcer 15 somerhing 1 can gaze 

satSl!,* 6 t ours "d I fal «»y 
dri wi, whereas that {a book of 

^f,y a Suy called Escher'} 
h (St0 He much appreciates a 

S*cel ^5 fhC SC "" Cdit€d by 
Th er • ln e text is outstanding, 

N rh* r ^ n C many rc P r o du «>ons, 
'^V ^ i* n0t Dri 'l' arir ' rnough 
S'\ c rciativ cly original, bur 

S°od because they analyse 

the painters' ideas, not just anccdoti- 
cally but the way they connect with 
the economic and social structures 
of the period' He 'doesn't "do" mu. 
seums exhaustively/ but is 'always 
willing ro go': Tm quire prepared 
to go along if a friend says "Look, 
there's something I wanr to go and 
see", or if l T ve seen ot read some- 
thing. . , . Tm always willing to go, 
and I spend a certain amount of 
time there.' He has been to Tuscany 
several times; '1 love everything 
there is to be seen there ... 1 enjoy 
situating the painters of the period 
in relation to one another; I say ro 
myself, Angelico was still painting 
like this while someone else was 
doing that/ He particularly likes 
*rhe Quattrocento, Botticelli, Piero 
della Francesca and also Vermeer 
and Watreau.' 'I don't quire know 
how to pur it, wherher it's the sub 
jeer, or the rechnique. ... I like the 
surfaces, and that sort of grace, 
charm, melancholy* He realizes rhar 
painrets cannor dispense with stylis- 
ric devices, but he dislikes rhose of 
Rousseau: 'There's something un- 
natural, over-ddiberare, over-sophis- 
ricared about his technique.' 
'Matisse, now, truly classical, re- 
strained things, rhose I do like. I 
like a lot of Picasso's work, and Vil- 
lon, the little 1 know of it. To be 
honest, I'm not well up on modem 
painting. . . There's one thing 
which to me is not painring, and 
rhar's rhe whole of Surrealism. In 
my view it's a purely intellectual ex* 
ercise. Dali and company arc some- 
rhing I derest.* 

'1 prefer The Art of Fugue 
on the organ' 

He has no hi-fi (i'd quite like ro 
have one, but for me it's not essen- 
tial'), bur he does have *a record- 
player that isn't bad' ('mono, I 
bought it for 600 francs four or five 

cars ago') 'In my view, music is 
somcrhing you ought ro go and see 
done by rhc people who make it. 
That's the best way. Otherwise, at 
home, you jusr need something rea- 
sonable to play the records on and 
some good performances. . . , I'm 
nor cnotmously sensitive ro the per- 
formance, but still, I do appreciare 
it/ His 'sense of rhe economy of 
means', his taste of 'sobriety' and 
'also his scientific training' incline 
him to appreciate 'pure music'. The 
Art of Fague, for example, 1 prefer 
that on the organ rather than an or- 
chesrral version, it really is pure 
musk, it's not a question of rimbie.' 
He dislikes 'Romantic music, it's 
too emphatic, too grandiloquent, 
For example, I like Berlioz, but the 
Fantastic Symphony is too rhetorical.' 
Although he has 'all sorts of minor 
activities', he is 'busy four evenings 
a week with meetings, choir rehears- 
als' (with a choral society he pined 
ten years ago); 'and nowadays, with 
a group of opera-lovers, you do a bit 
of opera, a bit of fieder, it takes up a 
lot of time in the end-* 'For me, the 
summit of music is Mozart . T . Co» 
fan tutte . , , I adote all of Poulenc, I 
like Delalande . . I really enjoyed 
Wontck when Boulez conducted it 
at the Paris Opera. It was rhe first 
rime I'd heard it.' He goes ro con- 
certs four or five times a year. 'Ear- 
lier this week I went to heat 
Fischer-Di eskau; for me he's the god 
of singing.' He scarcely ever listens 
to light music or non-classical sing- 
cis, and has never bought any of 
rhc it records (i like Brassens. but I 
don't listen to him'). 

'Effective use of limited means' 

He is *r ot really a connoisseur of 
films', he ofrcn 'just goes ro the 
local cinema in D, to see the cur- 
rent telcases if they're rot too bad.' 

He likes TcurTaut but x \% )rtir ^ 
to the American arts* (' ( gJjj 'o^ 
of American films a bit p Ue , a bt 
cept W ody Allen'). He d<£ C, > 
watch many histon cal ft ^ . n ■ 
'Obviously Abel Gance's ^ a J*}" 
thar was something not to 8^ 
missed, or The Battkihip Pot^i 

gic ro anything that strikes n* 
overdone. I like someone [0 s . *J 
me somcrhing he feels very st r °* 
makingcrTcctivcuscoflinuted m n ^; 
He is neither a 'gastronome' ^ 
'connoisseur', but he is faitly Scn fa 
rive* to the food he is offend 
'When friends invite me for a mca j 
it's a pleasure I take notice of, I ,- 
prcciate it.' He rnes to keep a few 
presentable wines in rhe house' 
('I've found a little dealer specialis- 
ing in Beaujolais. I like some of the 
things he has to offer, and that's 
how 1 srock my cellar'), 

*1 rush out walking' 

He 'would like to be able to play 
chess' and sometimes plays scrabble 
He does a bit of photography- '1 
end up using two rolls of thirty-jix 
pictures a year, mainly on holiday 
One thing I typically do when I'm 
on holiday in the mountains is to 
take pictures of landscapes - tfl en 
I spend hours poring over a map 
working our what can be seen* C" 1 
holiday i rush out talking and 
then, like an idiot, i do forty W 
metres at top speed on the & rtC *" 
and then my feet are swollen foj ^ 
fortnight. When I go walking- ' 
it fairJIy intensively, but unforru heJ1 1 
nately there are long periods w ^ f 
don't do any. For the last ?. 
I've had a dog, and she has to ,^. 
taken fot walks I do that at a 
ous pace ... 1 take her our ofl^ 
urdays and we run half the i^- 
We cover ren kilometres at ""' 

!■■■■■■■■-■-■■ *«-**■-*■■■■■■*■•■■■■■■■-■•■.■•*■«■■■■• *■«■-' 

ns of rheir propensity ro contest a social order rhich does nor 
fc vl ofcnize r ^ c ' r mcr * ts because it recognises orher principles of clas- 
faliy fC than those of rhc educational sysrem which has classified them. 
$ m rirocratic (and therefore, in a sense, aristocratic) revolr is inrensi- 
Xfo *? j r js combined with the loyalties, refusals and impossibilities, 
fifed * j 5 f the impossible, which arc linked to a petit-bourgeois or 
o r o-dass origin and which, together with purely economic con- 
^offi h ^ u |j membership in rhe bourgeoisie. 

•** r nc su b)ectively acceptable ways of escaping from the contradictions 
^j £ from the feet that cultural capital is a dominated principle of 
"i uon lies in participation as a cadre in rhe organizations claiming to 
«s and defend rhe interests of rhe dominated classes. Thus rhe distribu- 
'^ of the members of the different dominanr-clas* fractions who aspire 
1° th unequal chances of success) to positions as political reprcsenrarives 
! hich can be gauged by analysing tUe social characrensrics of parliamen- 

rv candidates) corresponds fairly strictly to rhc distribution of their te- 
siwciive factions in the field of the dominant class. It follows from this 
ihit political struggles are one of the arenas of the srruggle to impose rhc 
legitimate (re., dominant) principle of domination. 

% contrast, for those who, like the professionals, live on the sale of 
cultural services to a clientele, rhe accumulation of economic capital 
merges with the accumulation of symbolic capiral, that is, with the ae- 
qursition of a reputation for competence and an image of respectability 
and honourability that are easily converted into polirical positions as a 
'oca! or national notable. It is therefore understandable thar they should 
identity with the established (moral) order to which they make daily 
contributions, of which their political positions and actions, or the decla- 
rations of the national medical association, are only the most visible 


ror * ni '^K^ a SOFRES suivey of a national sample of two hundred doc- 

CCT1 f aJh fhC ^ fSt r ° Und ° f thc l974 P rcsidcnria * election, 59 pcr- 
For q. y would vote for Giscard, 16 pereenr for Mitterrand, 9 percent 

*kte and *? clmaS * :hc Gauln " candidare) and 1 1 percent for another can- 
|.. >^an pc rccnr wcrc und^j^c^ As k cd who rhey rnoU gh r was most 

^bann" ' 71 P erCcnr said Giscard, 16 pereenr Mitterrand, 9 percent 
Pfcdicr H. a$ an d 1 percent another candidate, and 1 3 percent would not 
^^ard h C2n £ ct an '^ ea °^ wnat rnc doctors were voring for in 
** Mid*J rt ^ n B the interview with him in the same issue of Le Quofrdien 

°f higU x reports the survey, in which he declares himself in f avout 

^ km\ * r ' w recruitment, rhe maintenance of the 'liberal profession', 
trea,1 nen^ f >raCl ' nonCr and the coexistence of public and private hospital 
*$s ti ' Promises to eliminate 'wastage* in the Social Security system and 
_<*d f ot any refotm of the Otdre des medecins. 

So the contrast that is usually drawn berween 'intellectual' o r i 
taste and 'bourgeois' or rjght-bank taste is nor only an opp os * < *n\ 
tween the preference for contemporary works (here, within the 1 ? ^ 
the lists offered, Picasso, Kandmsky, Boulez) and the taste f s of 
more consecrared works (the Impressionists and especially Reno* ° r « 
teau, the Hungarian Rhapsody, the Four Seasons, Eme Kleine Nock* * **■ 
between the tasre for solid values, in painting and music, as m j*)» 
and theatre, and the commitment to novelty- It is also an oppojir nttTlJ 
tween two world views, two philosophies of life, symbolized, f 0r n ^" 
pie, by Renoir and Goya (or Maurois and Kafka), the centres of*** 1 
constellations of choices, la vie en rose and la vie en noir, rose-col **** 
spectacles and dark thoughts, boulevard theatre and avant-garde th 
the social optimism of people without problems and the anti-bour *' 
pessimism of people with problems — the opposition between mar ^ 
and mental comfort, with intimate, discreet interiors and rradirio 
French cooking, and aesthetic and intellectual invention, with the ta r 
for exotic dishes or (by inversion) pot-luck, 'studied' inreriors, or (by in 
version) those that are easy to maintain, furniture from the Flea Market 
and avant-garde shows „ 

The oppositions between systems of purely aesthetic preferences that are 
symbolized by rhe antithesis Kandinsky/Renoir can be replaced in the sets 
of chokes constituting life-styles simply by considering the characteristics of 
an audience such as that of Connaissance aes Arts. This relatively expensive, 
luxury cultural journal, which is at the same time an advertising medium 
for the luxury goods rrade, especially in objets d'art, no doubt gives a fairly 
accurate picture of the groups who are united by 'bourgeois taste* and who 
are brought together by the most Select and also most expensive cultural 
events — smart exhibitions, gala performances at the Paris Opera, premieres, 
major concerts etc. The common features of the private sector executives 
and professionals — and the many fewer, and therefore srrongly over. select*". 
teachers and industrial employers — who make up this readership are a uking 
for expensive, prestigious activities (golf, riding) and for cultural practic 
oriented at least as much rowards material appropriation as towards ™ tr " 
symbolic appropriation, frequenring theatres and galleries (predonun**^ 
right bank), aucrion rooms, antique shops and luxury boutiques The 
geois taste* which characterises them is opposed nor only to **d HK* i/^ 
taste but also (essentially by possession of works of arr, gallery- and t 
going) to rhe 'middling' rasre of the grear majority of the industrial 
especially the commercial employers, great readers of Auio-Joumai, " ^ 
propnare only rhosc rare goods to which money gives direcr access, 
luxury cars (CS. Vr) -jnteN* 

To measure the distance between the 'bourgeois' public and trie ^ ch . 
tual' public, one only has to observe that rhe proportion of stu " c "! nc^ 1 
ers and artists is 53 percent at rhe Sainrcs ancient music festival. «*> rj )f1 . 
at rhe La Rochclle contemporary arts festival, 66 perccni at ehe N*n ■ 

I (avant-gar<le) thearre festival, 83 percent at the Royan contcnv 
rf rfi3 [, ° ,c festival; and rhat rate of attendance varies in the same way, 
port') f an average of 3 3 shows per person at Saintes to } at La Ro- 
>ng j 7 at Nancy and Royan (CS. XXIX, XXX). 

•i AJU. — 

^ , cf0 s the 'intellectual* fractions expect tather from the artist a sym 
\rt\ten&w$ of social reality and of the orthodox representation of it 
W ' yrccois' arr, the 'bourgeois* fractions expect their artists, their wrir- 
lfl heir crates, like their couturiers, jewellers or interior designers, to 
C( * \dc emblems of distinction which are at the same time means ofde* 
fz social reality. Luxury goods and works of art are only the mosr vist- 
n £ ^pect of this decor enveloping bourgeois exisrence, or at least, the 
te domestic part of a fundamentally dual life, spuriously unified in 
nd Through a spurious division against itself disinterestedness against 
inters*, art a g a ' nst monc y% tne spiritual agamst the temporal. Pol ire po- 
lineal newspapers, discreetly politicized or ostentatiously depolitirized, 
decorative journals and coffee-table art books, Blue Guides and travel 
«orics, regional novels and biographies of great men are so many screens 
to hide social reality, 'Bourgeois' theatre, a scarcely 'de-realized* represen- 
tanon of one of the forms of bourgeois existence, with its beautiful stage 
sets, pretty women, facile advencures, frivolous convention and reinsur- 
ing philosophy (any other combmatton of the nouns and adjectives is 
equally valid), is no doubt the form par excellence of the art the *bour 
gcois* recognizes because he recognizes himself in it. The bourgeoisie ex 
potts from art (not to mention what it calls literature or philosophy) 
a reinforcement of its self-assutan e, and, as much out of sufficiency 
as insufficiency, it can never really recognize the audacities of the 
avant-garde, even in the most highly neutralized arts, such as music. 
And for every enlightened amateur who has understood rhat it costs 
nothing to be, like Proust's Mme. de Cambremer, 'in art, always on the 
left', there arc many present day s.dmirers of Flaubert or Mahler who 
■ f ne samc impatience with disorder, even symbolic, and the same 
rror of movement*, even s.rtisrically sublimated, as their counterparts 
10 the past 

In \\ (l ~7~ ^~ ~ 

n^ ', a v,a&s or class fraction is defined not so much by its overall judge- 

^ o int C || cc tuals or artists in general (although anti-intellccfualism is a 
bo Ur( J"* m chatact eristic of some fractions of the bourgeoisie and petite 
^ bv'k ** ^ t,V ' C art ' srs an< * intellectuals it chooses From die range of- 
***W frs C ^ c '^ °^ P r °duction t *us rne antiintellcc tualism of the domi- 
ln *Hcc Cl 'P n °^ t!,c dominant class may be expressed in the choice of 
l7x rt * in S *k° arc i nC '* nc ^ to anti-incellectualism by their own position 
'*, rj, cl 'cctual field. The furthet one moves fcom rhe 'purest' genres, 
Mitj Cs c mGs: completely purified of all reference to the social world and 
Ihrst music, then poetry, philosophy and painting), rhe wider rhe 

gap between the producer* recognized by rhc dominant fraaion s ,^, 
wrights and theatre critics or philosophers and political essayists— -Z J' 
recognized by rhe producers themselves. Furthermore, s one is rem J^t 
the reaction it arouses among the declining petit bourgeois, the a rt ; r^ b* 
style* in paiticuJar everything in it which challenges the ordinary rc j t s ^h 
ships between age (or social status) and symbolic attributes, such a? 'I 011 ' 
ing, or behaviour, such as sexual or political conduct, contains a ■' 

denunciation of the practical postutatcs which are the basis of the bn 
tife-sryJc. Like the old women in Australian myths, who overthrow rh ?^ 
structu 1 ^ of relations between the generations by magically conscrvm C 
smooth, youthful skin, ams fs and intellectuals (like Sartre refusing ax? i 
prize ot frequenting young revolutionaries at an age when others pur &ll ^ 
honours and cultivate the powerful) can sometimes call into Question Q 
of rhe most deeply buried foundations of the social order, Spinoza^ obit 
quium, the disposition of those who have 'self-respect' and feel entiried \ 
command respect. 

One has to take inro accounr the whole logic of the field of artistic 
production and its relationship to the field of the dominant class to un- 
derstand why avant garde artistic production is bound to disappoint 
bourgeois expectations — unequally, and always in the shorr tcrm.^ It \% 
no accident that the taste for the artisric avant-garde appears in the analy- 
sis only at the end of a serie of oppositions In fact, evetything takes 
place as if, although it embodies artisric legitimacy, the artistic producers' 
taste for the avant-garde defined itself in a cjuasi^ncgative way, as the sum 
of the refusals of all socially recognized tastes: refusal of the middle-of-the- 
road taste of the big shopkeepers and parvenu industrialists, the 'grocers' 
pilloried by Flauberr and others as one incarnation of the 'bourgeois', ™ 
especially, perhaps, at prescnr, the petite bourgeoisie, led by their cultural 
pretension to the products of middle-brow culture or the most accessible 
products of legitimate culture (such as light opera or the ea iest boule- 
vard theatre), which are immediately devalued by their new audience, re- 
fusal of bourgeois taste, i.e., the typically right-bank luxury taste, whic 
has some accomplices among the artists; and, finally, refusal of rhe frtC 
ers* 'pedantic taste*/ 7 which though opposed to bourgeois taste **• in . 
eyes of the artists, me ely a variant of it, disdained for its heavy, P cCt * ?i 
ging, passive, sterile didacticism, its 'spirit of seriousness', and ^ osr ° . 
for its prudence and backwardness. And so the logic of double nC o . r 
can lead the artists back, as if in defiance, to some of the preference 
acreristic of popular taste. For example, they concur with the * i§ 
classes and the lower fractions of the middle classes, from which l . ^pC- 
rer in every other way, in choosing an interior that is 'practical * n # 
rionaf, 'easy to maintain', the antithesis of 'bourgeois comfo r( • ^^s 
they may rehabilitate, but at the second degree, the mosr dc« *J *Jfc&& 
of popular raste (kitsch, pop arr). The 'artist* life- tyle which l .^e^ 
by this distance from aJI other lifestyles and their temporal att 

sCS a particular type of asset structure in which time functions as 
«r^ a PP n dent facror, partly interchangeable with economic capital But 
jfi ' n .' c and the disposition to defend it, by renouncing what it could 
S^i l0 earn, presuppose both the (inherited) capital needed to make 
t* u - r jon marerially possible and the— highly aristocratic — disposi- 
rCflU ^' enounce. 

poll to 



by an almost complete inversion of the ordinary world view, fre- 
Lft ' 5 lv consider money (often earned through activities external to their 
^n as a r° cans °f buying f i mc ro wor ' c anc * ro l cac * tnc *artisr's life' 

h is a° integral part of their specific activity. 18 Thus artisrs (and inrel- 
\ als) ejCCnan 5 c moncv > wn 'ch they could otherwise earn, for time, the 

which ha ro be spent without counting to produce objects which 
Jmi (« n tne 5 ^ ort fCfm ) navC no mar ^ ets * and to 'discover* objects and 
°bces whose rarity and value they help to produce, antiques, back-street res 
oy rants, new shows etc; and they quasi-cxclusively appropriare collective 
^jods or services (museums, galleries, cultural broadcasts). Variations in 
spare time and in the relation to time are, together with unequal propensity 
(ocon ume, among the factors which make patterns of expenditure very 
unequal guides to the resources of each class. 

The Mark of Time 

In no othet class is the opposition between the young and old, the chal- 
lengers and the possessors — and also the opposition between the senior 
members of the class and the newcomers, which cannot always be su- 
perimposed upon ir (since, in some sectors at least, the most senior are 
also rlie most precocious) — more determinant than in rhe dominant 
diss* which can ensure its own perpetuation only if it is capable of over- 
r P™ n S the crises that are liable to arise from the competition between 
1 fractions ro impose the dominant principle of domination and from 
e succession struggles within each f taction. The differences between 
generations (and the potential for generation conflicts) inctease with 
magnitude of rhe changes rhat have occurred in the definitions of 
them ° na ' P OSJt ' ons or ,n tric institutionalized means of access to 
t L ' J9 LC ' f he modes of generation of the individuals appointed to 
&> v e ^ onse< luen(ly, the differences due ro the diversity of toutes into a 
ai^t . ^ at a given moment (particularly visible in populations which 
co Up jfj y Aspersed in this tespect, like the executives and engineers) are 
the i k j W,r k. c ^ c differences resulting from rhe variations over time in 
W jh dC5Cn ption and in the conditions of access to the job, in particu- 
*hich Var,at * ons in rhe relative importance of the different routes 
^'nd liri ked to changes in the educational system and its relation 

The opposition between the oldest, who valorize rhe mosc ascetic ct ^- 
dispositions, and the youngest, who identify with the values most tynj 
the modern executive, is particularly marked among the executives a n j °f 
gince/s (and secondarily among the teachers and professionals). For Cx tT1 * 
pie, in the dominant class as a whole, 51-5 percent of the over-45s choo^ 
'conscie ntious* friend, as against 24,5 percent of the under-4 5s, 39 pcrcc ' 
of whom choose 'dynamic' as against 19. 5 percent of the over-45S; amo/ 
the executives and engineers, 42.5 percent of the under-45s and 8 perccn^ 
the over-45s choose 'dynamic', while 15 percent of the undcr-45s and 54 ^ 
percent of the over-45s choose 'conscientious*. (Similar variations, always 
more marked among executives and engineers, are observed for 'deter 
mined', which varies like 'dynamic', or 'weMbred 1 , which varies Ijke 'con- 
scientious'.) A similar evolution (no doubt linked to a general increase U 
cultural capital) is found in tastes in legitimate culture: thus, the youn& t 
executives and engineers more often choose Rhdpsotfy m Blue (32 percent 
against 17.5 percent) or the Four Seasons (47 percent and 24 percent ) t ley 
often UArUsmne (14 5 percent and 28 percent), Hungarian Rhapsody (32 
percent and 58.5 percent), Blue Danube (13 percent and 30.5 percent), 

These historical variations are particularly significant in the case of the 
fractions most direcrly linked to the economy, the engineers and execu- 
tives, but they have, in a more insidious way, affected the whole of the 
dominant class. They are likely to pass unnoticed because they always 
manifest themselves in combination with age, so that they can easily be 
taken for an effect of biological or even social age rather than generation 
and because they are translated inro trajectories, i.e., individual histories 
which are so many responses to a given state of the chances objectively 
offered to a whole generation by collective history. 

The 'liberal professions' (doctors, at least) have succeeded in main 
taining rhe traditional definition of their job and the competence tt 
requires by defending, among other things, the most Malthusian condi- 
tions of access, thus in a sense escaping from history and the divisions 
between the generations. By conttast, categories such as those of the ex- 
ecutives and engineers bring together individuals separated both in tra 
jectory and in generation, in the sense of the set of products of a single 
mode of generation associated with a similar pattern of objective cham • 
In fact, because of the duality of the modes of access, by qualification a 
by promotion, and the corresponding divisions which prevented an off 
nized defence of the modes of access and of the corresponding P r ' vl ^7j' 
these categories have been much more direcrly affected by educatt 
expansion^ which, by increasing the number of formally qual^o C 
dates entitled to jobs, has transformed the dc facto relationship ^ 
tirlesand jobs and the form of the competition for jobs between for" 1 *^ 
qualified and non-qualified candidates. 30 m -U" 

Furthermore, changes in the economy have been reflected in nC rf ri»' 
merical and hierarchical relationships between the different man ^ fl i- 
and executive functions, thereby transforming the system of °PP° 

c n ro chc products of the different types of train ing — aurodidact 
r> £5 . tcs for promotion, engineers from the minor engineering schools, 
c r*c*rs f rorri tnc scientific grandes ecoles (Polytee hnique, 1'Ecole des 
c^f etc-)* graduates of the various lnsrirurs des sciences politicjues or 

cr etc r mu sr, of course, always be remembered rhat the different 
ses of r ^ c vanouS groups to the new situations arising from eco- 
fCS P . tha n g c s Can be traced back to the differences in social and educa- 
r<J I orig ,n w bWh have always determined important differences 
v ° — n individuals occupying formally identical positions at a given 
men* J ^ or exam P' e ' tnc strengthening of finance and marketing de- 
^ftments relative to technical departments, resulting from the "increased 
P r f banks over industry ano' rhe growing internarionalization of irv 
ii stria' & T0U P$> rnc * r ca P' ta ^ tr »cir management and their parents, has 

used a revaluation of the qualifications and institutions leading to these 
positions. Sciences Fo, ENA or HEC on the one hand, Polytechnique 
' d the other engineering schools on the orher hand, and, simulta- 
neously, redistributed the chances available ro rhe fractions of the bour- 
geoisie who use these institutions. Thus, as a result of changes in the 
economic structures, and chiefly through its use of the Paris Instituts des 
sciences pol!tic[ues, situated ar the bottom of the specifically academic hi- 
erarchy of rhe 'schools of power', the Parisian graxdt bourgeoisie has re- 
appropriated, perhaps more completely than ever, the commanding 
positions in the economy and the civil service (provoking collective and 
individual ripostes by Polytechnique graduates, more and more of whom 
jie taking a detour through Harvard, Columbia or M.I.T.). 

In addition, the emergence of a large number of new positions, which 
promise profits at lease equivalent to those of the established positions 
and strictly predictable career targets, but without offering the same guar- 
anrccs of security, is tending to subvert the system or differential chances 
ot profit. At leasr in the phase when both their risks and their profits are 
greatest, these new positions situated at critical points in the social strut 
we arc most attractive to those whose social origin has provided them 
Wlt " an inclination towards tisky investments, the sociaJ connections 
deeded , n order to make them and the information needed in order to 
su <*ccd i n them. 

Th ^~ ~ " " — ' 

t ^ Wtt a category Such as that of the engineers, it is possible to dis- 

boih ^rnilies of taste corresponding to sublets of individuals separated 
the *, W rfS pe ct r0 cultural and educational capital and to seniority within 
older°* lr ^ CO,5|C ' ^ r on< " cxrrcmc ' s f° ur, d the peciVbo urgeois taste of rhe 
m Dtt f l l£ lnc ers. originating from the middle or working classes and pro- 
u Crnfr v*" tnc ranks or trained in second-rank schools; at rhe other ex- 
gradu* 'Jr bourgeois tasrc of the young engineers who have recently 
bt^ 3 f forn the grandrs ecoles and are at least second-generation mem- 

1"h c rhC bour S co,s 'e- 

* same divisions reappear a fortiori in the catch-all categoiy of the 


A Young Executive Who 
'Knows How to Live' 

Michel R., an advertising execurive 
working in a Paris agency, rhe son 
of rhe managing direeror of rhe 
Ftench subsidiary of a leading mul- 
tinational corporation, studied in a 
private Catholic secondary school in 
the 17rh arrondissement and then at 
the Paris Polirtcat Science Imrirute; 
his wife, Isabelle, rhedaughrer of a 
provincial industrialist, also wenr ro 
Sciences Po and works for a weekly 
news-maga2ine. He is 30. she is 28; 
rhey have rwo children. They live in 
Paris l in a modern fivoroomed 
aparrmenr in the i5th arrondisse- 
ment. They like things to be *snug 
and cosy . They have no interest in 
'homc-improvemenr* and have kept 
their aparrmenr as they found it, 
'The decoration is all the work of 
our predecessor, 1 didn't much like 
the green in the dining-room, it was 
rather gloomy, bur we got used ro 
it, and I get bored working on rhe 
place 1 live in.' 1 hate thar beading 
on rhe doors, I'd like ro gcr rid of 
it. The pscudo I6rh- or l$rh<enrury 
veneering or whatever it is all over 
this modern apartment is ghastly; 1 
put up with ir but it gcrs on my 
nerves,' says Michel, who has re- 
moved some of ir but 'couldn't face 
the resr.' 

4 The world of my grandparents' 

I"heir flat *is parrly the world of my 
grandparenrS,, my great-grandparents, 
who were grands iwurgeot/: pictures 
by Michel's grandfather, 'who spent 
his whole life painting and never 
did a day's work 1 ; other pictutes 
which they have been given — a 
Boudin, a Bissirre, and a Folon. But 

Michel, who "adores the Imr^ 

;,„ ;„ A i i _ ... i. r«essj 

ists in general and especially ilT 0f ** 
nard, and Moner or Manet, rh* ^ 
who does a lor of landscape J* 
Pissarro*, does nor like them 

Nor does he like still Hfes^ 0f 
'problem pictures 1 ; 'Fernand Lp- 
and stuff like thar, is horrible, ,y' 
thick and heavy ., . two or fat* 
Braques can be inreresting t0 j^, 
at, bur when you see two hundred 
of rhem, all done the same way • 
gets a bir reperirive, a bit nighr 
marish ] rend to go for land- 
scapes . . . My grandmorher's g 0[ a 
Bonnard in her apartment, rhe one 
really valuable picture she owns ]p t 
won't inherit ir because there are 
lots of relatives But it would be 
wonderful ro own ir. I go for rhinfc 
that are outside fashion, sorr of 

Isabelle doesn't entirely agree 
with her husband; There are some 
rhings 1 like a lor in modern an, 
bur rhat's because 1 like the colours 
. . . For example, Vieira da Sitva 
(she hesitates over the name), Sou- 
din, who is behind you, 1 like a br' 
They both occasionally visit gal- 
leries, and exhibitions two or three 
rimes a year. They wenr to rhe 
Bra<$ue exhibition and expect ro$ee 
rhe Impressionists at Durand-Ruel 

We'd seen a lot of 
mediocre stuff' 

The dining-room rabies and chairs* 
mahogan y, I8fh<enruiy English 
srylc, were bouehr in London & 
soon as they were married. 1 Qon 
know if we'd do the same rhtng 
today ... I can't remember W "Y . 
boughr them, but from a bdurj^. 
poinr of view they must be a g^ 
investment.' After visiting many a:l 
rique shops, they 'finally chose 

hin£ vcf y ex P cns ' vc - ' r wOU '^ 
501*^ c t wicc as much in Paris. 

fc* v ? i 5C cn a 'or of mediocre srufV 

S$ c 2 cC idcd we didn't like it lm- 

*"^ g the furniture 'was no prob- 

F^ ftl j^ s exempt from customs 

$°j Vou just have to pay VAT 

<* ut !^. a dded tax]/ In the living- 

[ va t h C y have some modern and 

r0 ° m a ld furniture, a bookcase from 

^£ e ,Bobois # a sofa from a shop in 

vl |]^ Suisse. 

Michel^ car is 'only an old 
ptugeot 404', whereas his bosses 
'have $01 Jaguars, rhe director of 
the agency has an Alfa Romeo, a 
Lancia'. 'From time to time, they 
say. "So you aren't trading ir in?* 
They'd be relieved if 1 got a new 
car. They're afraid I'll visit clients 
in my car' 

The right sort of clothes for 
people in advertising' 

Though at weekends, at home, he 
wears 'a filthy pair of trouscts', for 
work he dresses with gt ear care and 
elegance He buys his suirs at 
Barnes, rhe advertising man's tailor, 
in the rue Victor Hugo in Paris. 
"They're rhe right sort of clothes for 
People who make it in advertising — 
English clorh, Prince of Wales 
checks wirh a rouch of luxury. Nor 
rhe sort of rhtng civil servants could 
wear* and bank managers couldn't 
get away with it either. In banking 
you nce d a p| a { n $ hirr; banking isn't 
i° w y. whereas in advertising, peo- 
Pje pur eve] y p rmv t hcy earn inro 

otnc * . In my business we're 
co '*tanrcy classifying people, rhcre 
** ^al classes, castes, and its a 
r ^ tCr of fitting a product to rhe 

^ru caste. When someone new 
u Cs ro the agency, we size ihem 
v^," a glance. . . A guy wirh a vel- 
m 5 3j lt and big ]apels is compensar- 

8 *°f something, he's not very 

sure of himself, he wants ro make 
an impression.' For a while, the 
agency had 'a finance manager from 
a veiy modesr background; when he 
arrived he was so badly dressed rhar 
ir was bad for business ... he was 
dressed like a junior clerk/ 'Wear- 
ing a suit wirh narrow lapels, nar- 
row bortoms, a bir short, in a loud 
colour with a shirt that doesn't 
match and a narrow tie, for 
example, by our standards, 
that's grotty.' 

'Not rhe way 

some secrerar ies do it' 

*On the other hand, being roo fash- 
ionable is nor much better,' adds 
Isabelle, who dresses their children 
*in fairly classic style', paying partic- 
ular artention to the colours. I like 
a pretty smocked dress from rime ro 
rime, and English overcoats. Of 
course it's done wirh an eye ro fash- 
ion, but nor in the silly way some 
secretaries ar UExpreti do it, dress- 
ing rheir children in the new kiddy- 
bouciques, Mini-this and Mini-rhat, 
wirh things rhar cosr a forrune and 
are a miniature copy of rhe parents' 
clorhes/ These secrcraries 'are all 
well dressed, by my srandards, rhey 
have perfecr colour sense. . , . There 
were some girls who arrived, who 
dressed wirh rerrible rasre, it was 
vulgar, cheap, racky, just awful . . . 
and then, after four years, they fi* 
nally got ir right/ Isabelle has a 
friend who is 'always exquisitely 
dressed ... rhe effect is always stun- 
ning, t mean, it's chic, it's got real 
class . . She pays arrencion ro every 
lirtle derail ' Michel's farher is also 
'very well-dressed, norhing is ever 
overdone, his colours are always 
perfect. Refinement without the 
slighresr ostentarion. He has a railor 
in lx>ndon/ Michel's morher is 
'equally restrained. Always a beauri- 


A Young Executive Who 
'Knows How to Live 

Michel R., an advertising executive 
working in a Paris agency, rhe son 
of rhe managing director of rhe 
French subsidiary of a leading mul- 
tinational corporation, srudied in a 
private Catholic secondary school in 
rhe 17th artondissemenr and then at 
the Paris Political Science Institute; 
his wife, Isabelle, the daughter of a 
provincial industrialist, also went to 
Sciences Po and works for a weekly 
news-magazine. He is 30, she is 28; 
they have two children. They live in 
Paris, in a mcxiem five roomed 
apartment in rhe 15th arrondissc- 
ment. They tike things ro be 'smug 
and cosy*. They have no interesr in 
'home-improvement' and have kepr 
their apattmenr as rhey found it. 
The decoration is all the work of 
our predecessor. [ didn't much like 
the green in the dining-room, ir was 
rarher gloomy, but we gor used to 
it, and I get bored working on rhe 
place I live in.' 'I h;te that beading 
on the doors, I'd like ro ger rid of 
ir. The pseudo I6rh- or 18rh-cenrury 
veneering or whatever it is alt over 
rhis modern apartment is ghastly, I 
put up with it but it gets on my 
nerves/ says Michel, who has re- 
moved some of ir but "couldn'r face 
the rcsr* 

'The world of my grandparents' 

Their Mat 4 is partly the world of my 
grandparents, my grear-grandparenrs, 
who were grands bourgeois': pictures 
by Michel's grandfather, 'who spent 
his whole life painting and never 
did a day*s work', other pictures 
which rhey have been given — a 
Boudin, a Bissiere, and a FoLon. Bur 

Michel, who 'adores rhe 1,^ 
isrs in general and especially ? l W 
nard, and Monet or Manet r*J n ' 
who does a lor of landscapes, 0f * 
Pissarro*. does nor like the m ^ 

Nor does he like srill Ijf^ 
'problem pictures': Ternary 'i^' 
and Stufi like that, is horribj e ^ r - 
thick and heavy . . . two or J lr * 
Braques can be interesting ro j?, 
at, but when you see two hundred 
of them, all done the same ^ ay 
gets a bit reperirive, a bir njg^ U 
marish . I tend ro go for land. 
scapes My grandmother's got 
Bonnard in her aparrmenr, r hc o nc 
really valuable picture she owns. W t 
won't inherit it because there are 
lots of relatives. But it would he 
wondetful to own ir. I go for [htna 
rhar are outside fashion, son of 

Isabelle doesn'r entirely agree 
with her husband: There are some 
things I like a lot in modern art> 
bur rhar's because 1 like rhe colours 
, . . For example, Vicira da Silva 
(she hesirarcs over the name), Bou- 
din, who is behind you, I like* lot.' 
They both occasionally visir gal- 
leries, and exhibitions two Of rhree 
times a year. They wear to the 
Braque exhibition and expecr ro $ee 
rhe Impressionists at Durand-Ruri- 

'Wd seen a lot of 
mediocre stuff * 

The dining-room tables and chairs, 
mahogany, I8th-centuiy English 
style, were boughr in u>n ^?^ l 
soon as they were married. ** d 
know if we'd do the same rhing ^ 
today ... I can't remember w ]Ljii 
boughr them, but from a ^"^j 
point of view they must he a g^ 
jnvestment.' Afrer visiring ™ x 
ri H ue shops, rhey finally &o* 

, g v ery expensive. lr would 
gjtl^ ^ tries as mucn ' n Par ' s - 
&* ^-en a ,or °^ W&foxf* sruf * 
$ c ^ fad wc ^idn'r l'^ c ' r * lm- 
jn<* r hc furniture *was no prob. 

fe*"; You i u sr navc to P a y VAT 

^ftadded Ia *l' In rhc ,iving " 
f hcv have some modern and 
fO ^ u fumirure, a bookcase from 
i0nl ^Bobois> a soft from a shop in 
JTviUage suissc. .. 

^Michel's «r »* *<> n| y an 0,d 
t 404', whereas his bosses 

Stego< J a £ uars * rhc dirCCror ° f 
he a«W has an Alfa-Romco, a 
Lancia*. Prom rime to nine, they 
^So you aren't trading it in?" 
■they'd be relieved if I gor a new 
car They're afraid I'll visit clients 

n my 


'The right sort of cloches for 
people i n advertising' 

Though ar weekends, at home, he 
wtars 'a filthy pair of trousers', for 
work he dresses with great care and 
elegance. He buys his suits at 
Barnes, the advertising man's tailor, 
m the rue Victor Hugo in Paris. 
They're rhe right sort of clothes for 
praple who make it in advertising — 
English doth, Prince of Wales 
checks with a touch of luxury. Not 
the sort of thing civil servants could 
*^r,and bank managers couldn't 
%* awa y with it eithet. In banking 
g» need a p | a in shirr; banking isn't 
owy, whereas in adverting, peo- 
ple £ uc Cvcr ^ P crin y tnc y carn ' nto 

c ^ • In my business we're 
^ranrly classifying people, there 

mitt**" 1 classc5 ' casccs> aftd ir ' s a 
r,g ht cr of fitting a product ro the 

Cities aStt " ^^ cn som eone new 
up ft ro mc agency, we size them 
v ct glance .A guy with a vel- 
»ng fo U an< ^ b ig lapels is compensate 
r ^mcrhing, he's not veiy 

sure of himself, he wants to make 
an impression/ For a while, the 
agency had 'a finance manager from 
a very modest background; when he 
arrived he was so badly dressed that 
it was bad for business ... he was 
dressed like a junior clerk.' 'Wear- 
ing a suit with narrow lapels, nar- 
row bottoms, a bit short, in a loud 
colour with a shirr that doesn'r 
march and a narrow tie, for 
example, by our standards, 
that's grotty/ 

'Not the way 

some secretaries do it' 

'On the other hand, being too fash- 
ionable is nor much bcrter/ adds 
Isabelle, who dresses rheir children 
'in fairly classic style', paying partic- 
ular attention ro rhe colours. 'I like 
a pretty smocked dress from time to 
time, and English overcoats. Of 
course it's done with an eye ro fash- 
ion, but nor in the silly way some 
secretaries at L' Express do it, dress- 
ing their children in the new kiddy- 
boutiques, Mini-this and Mini that, 
with things that cost a fortune and 
are a miniature copy of the parents' 
clothes/ These secretaries 'are all 
well dressed, by my standards, rhey 
have perfecr colour sense, , , There 
were some girls who arrived, who 
dressed with rerrible rasre, it was 
vulgar, cheap, tacky, just awful , . . 
and then, after four years, rhey fi- 
nally got it righr/ Isabelle has a 
friend who is 'always exquisitely 
dressed ... the effect is always stun- 
ning, t mean, it's chic, it's gor real 
class . . , She pays attention ro every 
little detail.' Michel's father is also 
'very well-dressed norhing is ever 
over done, his colours are always 
perfect. Refinement without the 
slighrest ostenrarioa He has a tailor 
in London/ Michel's mother is 
'equally restrained. Always a beauri- 

fully cue fur coat.' She, too, often 
buys her clorhes in london. 

'Provincial clerks who fill 
their gardens with gnomes* 

*Tht petits bvurgew have no rasre, 
it's a phrase we often use, though 
we're well aware it's racist/ (Michel 
and Isabel le constantly indicate in 
this way their "distance' from the 
ways of the older generation of the 
grandt boxrgzohk — perhaps especially 
when speaking to a sociologist, al- 
beit a friend's sister) Isabeile's par- 
ents, provincial industrialists, are 
more severe or less tolerant: "About 
the fMit-bourgeais phenomenon — pro 
vtnctaJ clerks who rill their gatdens 
with gnomes, windmills and similar 
rubbish, Mummy used to say, ^[t's 
outrageous; making things like that 
ought ro be tanned.*' It was terribly 
authoritarian, really fascist, whereas 
we spoke up for eveiyone's right to 
have rheir own tastes.' 

'A very light rneaU a vegetable 
dish and some cheese" 

In cooking, as in clothing and fur- 
ntshtng, rhey manifest the same re- 
fusal of pretension, of excess 1 , rhe 
same sense of 'distinction*. Without 
being *a wine-buff who can tell one 
year from another*, Michel is 'some- 
thing of an expert*. His father-in 
taw, who has a huge cellar, has 
slowly initiated them. When they 
visit him T they drink 'Margaux 
1926, amazing things that rhey 
don't stock in restaurants any more 
. . . With colleagues, for example, 
I'm rhe one who chooses the wine. 
They can see I know what I'm 
doing, I don't go for some miser- 
able Cahors, for example. I know ir 
doesn't taste the same as a Sainr- 
Esrtphe or a Saint-Emilion- . . . 
Hardly anyone kno^s how ro 

choose wine, so as soon as 
know a lirtle bit about |^ 
like someone who knows ^ 0v ^k 
live.* Ar home, they have a g 


agnums of Veuve Clicquot kU 
hich they bought: *gcxxj-q...i. ' 
things; we drink some rw 

i they bought: *good-ou a |_ 
; we drink some two 0r C h 
tmtes a month and then r here 
the Christmas presents ... I*U « 
whisky, we drink Chivas, ^t'ct S 
rather demanding.' They h uy t L . 
claret direct from the produ CCr < ' r 
fifteen or eighteen francs a borrfe* 
forty francs in rhe shops, a v 
good wme/ In the evening, ^n 
tliey are alone, they tat *a very li<A 
meal, a vegerable dish and some 
cheese* They like to invite friends 
for 'tlcahpes a la ows^ taut? <& Ieae 
curry, salmon rhar we buy occasion! 
ally.' Michel is particularly partial ro 
'foe de {anara frah aux faisrm 
cooked in the coals, and con fit d'w: 
He has earen in 30 of the 1 00 best 
restaurants in Paris lisred in rhe 
Gault d Miitau guide, often busi- 
ness lunches (i only paid for ten of 
them*). He also likes traditional 
French food ('plain home cooking, 
in other words') but is nor keen on 
little local restaurants or 'foreign 
dishes, Italian or Chinese 

'Healthy exercise' 

Michel and Isahelle are members o f 
a golf club; *it's marvellous, bur ' hc 
people aren't. They're mosrly g*$ l - 
In France it's always a certain xyj* 
of people, whereas in Japan 30 f* r 
cent of the population belong w a 
golf club.' Their initial subscript 
cost them 10,000 francs; they °o 
longer go, because of the child* ■ 
but rhey have kept up their mc^ 
bership. Michel no longer P lay * e 
nis: Ir's very stressful . Y°u 
ro keep moving all rhe time, run 
ning up to rhe net- 1c gi vCS nt 

^ch c . Golf is less hard on 
b* u sclcs .' 'Victims of fashion, ev- 
th^ ^ talking abour if this year,' 

ctl;0<y re 8 0in B to £° CfOSS courur y 

iKf They have also bought sec- 
^^aiid racing bicycle* and last 
°° « they *ent for long rides: 

When he was a student, M!chc] 
i rr, go to rhe TNP (Theatre 
ILqmI Ptapulaire) in Aubervih 
T rt to see Gombrowic2 or Brechr, 
£ * hc no longer goes; fhey have re- 
ly (> ee n to the Carroucherie de 
Vinccnncs and the Paris Opera: they 
t o the einema fairly often. They 

have a hi-fi system and a rape- 
recorder; they listen to the classical 
record reviews on France-Musique. 
Michel particularly likes MQnrt 
(The Marriage of Figaro), Schubert 
Quartets, Bach, and the Beerhoven 
Quartets. 'J haven'r learnt to appre- 
ciate purely modern stufl, Wcbern 
and so on,' Michel does not read 
many novels but inrends ro read 
Tony Duvert (he likes books thar 
are 'a bit stimulating 1 ; he tead 
Robbe-G fillet's Lis G&mmtl but 
'couldn't get into it'). He mainly 
reads 'anything in social studies' — 
psychology, economics. 



cashti (executives), a sort of junction where one encounteis former engi- 
neers, endowed wirh a traditional cultural capital (usually scientific), who 
exercise a (delegated) managerial authority; administrative executives who 
have achieved promotion (in rhe public sector, by internal examinarion) by 
dint of a great effort to carch up scholasfically (evening classes etc) that is 
rarely sanctioned by diplomas (except purely 'internal* titles); young gradu* 
ares of rhe grandes ecoles (Polyrechnique and ENA), trained for the public 
sector but destined, in many cases, to move to high positions in the private 
sector; and, finally, execurives of a new type, generally in marketing ot man- 
agement, deriving their educational capital (when they have any) from the 
business schools or political science institutes, and inclined to a life-style 
which differs from that of the 'old bourgeqisic 1 from which many of them 
0n £in2te 

Everything seems to indicare that the different modes of access (from the 
ranks or by qualification) lead to very different careers. The possessors of 
qui ifi cat ions move much further and faster, especially in the second half of 
t , m c areers (all observers agree that autodidacrs have their best chance in 
E P^ ri od from entry to, i.e., ro about age 35-40). But occupa- 
3 g na . c - c ycles also depend on firms: rhe possessors of qualifications have 

nu 'es with the largest firms, the only ones which can provide career- 
co u Ures of the bureaucratic type. And it is among the executives of large 
life ^r i€S in c ^ c P f i y ate sector that all the features of the new bourgeois 
-^_ y^ ar e most strongly developed. 

Al u 
iy ^/ l0U S n executives and engineers have the monopoly of the means of 

insr a Ppropriarion of the cultural capital objectified in the form of 

ttj c b / nents ' machines and so forth which are essential to the exercise of 

rr> Wcr 0' economic capital over rhis equipment, and derive from their 

P°'y a real managerial power and relative privileges within the 

Model Executives 

A rapid analysis of the "executive 
opportunities' advertised in Le 
Maude in the course of a single 
fcrek (in July l975> is sufficient 10 
identify rhe sci of characteristic fea 
tures of the new breed of market- 
ing-oriented managers required by 
rhe new forms of business organiza- 

Wherher 'product manager 1 , 'sales 
engineer' [these two terms are in 
English in rhe oriigmal text], 'dep- 
uty sales director', 'assistant financial 
manager' or 'general sales manager 7 , 
he must above all be a 'negotiator* 
and a 'communicator', and be 

skilled m Hop-level contacts'; able to 
act with 'diplomacy*; adaptable ro 
'contacts ar all levels'; 'accustomed 
to contacts with senior civil ser- 
vants, excellent negotiator'; 'capacity 
for high-level contacts'; 'top-level 
contacts and negotiation'; 'negotia- 
tion with banks'; 'take charge of re- 
lations with Government 
deparrmenrs, represent the firm on 
national negotiating bodies'; 'tasre 
for contacts and motivation'; 'taste 
for problem- solving and human rela- 
tions, highly arriculate*; 

and in internal negotiations, which 
means, for a head of sales manage- 
ment: 'an on -going coordination 
funcrion berween sales division and 
general management'; for a chief 
buyer, 'this position entails full con- 
trol of liaison between a marketing 
(English in original] department 
and a production unir*; for a sales 
engineer, 'the negotiations he will 
have ro conduct will require an un- 
derstanding atrirude and the creativ- 
ity which his competence justifies'; 
'co-ordinator between clients, sales 

personnel, senior rnanagernpn 
sales service and rnanufactu r J' ? ftc r- 

a graduate of me of the new but ' 
schools, HEC INSEAD, Ecol* 
Supericurc de Commetce (ESC\ 
Institur Superieur des Affaires ° r 
(ISA), generally listed togetb Cr 
perhaps rounded off by a 'period 
study in an American univ Cr w. 

endowed with the aptitudes and an' 
t udes implied m writing fa multiL 
t tonal or strong} export orten ted fa 
('English absolutely indispensable-' 
English vocabulary: 'marketing', 
'merchandising' [last two terms in 
English} cic, and Ang]j C isms: W 
port unite* ere); 

having a 'taste for team-work' and a 
capacity f& 'animating others (the 
subsritute for authority): 'dynamic 
and adaptable ... he must be pre- 
pared to join a ream'; c to direct and 
motivate a stall of twenty'; 

creative and dynamic (like the firm it- 
self, which is 'rapidly expanding 
into the export field'): 'lead, ani- 
mate, form a team'; 'dynamism, 
drive, capacity for synthesis and 

young ('young executive'); 

nwbtk; he must expect ro travel f** 1 
quently, particularly lo 'he USA. 

A similar profile emerges fro^ 3 
typical icport in VEypamion^^' 
64 (June 1973), p. \h9)~*M m 
•The New Rare Birds', on 'new c*^ 
ccutivc positions' rhar '3re weH V^ 
for lack of applicants*: 'A drr*'* - f 
forward planning will always sl ™\. 
70.000-80,000 fanes a year af^ 
agenwtt controller at between <£• 
and 90.000. There's a strong ^^ 
mand for internal auditors, rec 
if possible from Peat Warwick, 

f An<k«en or Price Water- 
Art fr "juniot" will pick up 
h<> U! *L t0 80,000, a "senior" 110,000 
* n O0°- ^ c f tnanc ^ analyst still 
10 , least 60,000. The director of 
& ct j> jetffopment has come up 

r ro^ Iy: 

.n.000 to 70,000 bisi year, 

(fits to 80,000 this year. Jn the 
** banks there are even some ar 

U ne center] managers have been 

Moving u P in,hfsjmcW ?-™ 5 
* r Ave challengers have broken 

ji: rtie urvtang manager, the ifofc/ 
inrftf, the merchandising [in 
g glish] manager (within the mar 
krcing [Engnsh] plan, he endeav- 
ours to improve his produces 
position m the new distribution cir- 
cuit* the basic merchandiser 
[English] goes round the hypermar- 
ket shelves trying to get the maxi- 
mum display "footage 1 * for his 
company's products ), the business 
methods analyst (he analyses the com- 
pany's system atvd standards; like au 
ditots. his starting salary depends to 
a targe extent on the practices he 
has been trained in), and the plant 
manage (the Anglo- American ori- 
gin of this position means that the 
'deal candidate is one who has expe- 
rience in a charter-accounting [sic] 
wtm); And what of the future? Two 
nt * tare birds are on the horizon; 

the marketing auditor and the publtt- 
relations auditor, ' 

The portrair of rhe modern man- 
ager, as drawn in 1973, seems to 
have changed recenrly, no doubt be- 
cause the recession is creating condi 
tions more favourable to the old 
style of management (there is again 
a demand for the 'leader of men' — 
someone who, as an informant put 
it, 'can say no wirhout explaining' — 
and an increased demand for pro- 
duction specialists and sales manag- 
ers trained 'on the ground') and 
also because the engineering schools 
have reacted to the rise of the man- 
agement schools (for example, the 
creation of the Institute for the Sci- 
ences of Action at Polytechnique in 
1977). According ro a survey pub- 
lished in Le Noiwet Economist (No- 
vember 8, 1976), which questioned 
the personnel directors of 5,000 
companies, firms still look for open- 
mindedne5s\ 'dynamism', 'capacity 
to adapt and relate', 'abiliry to syn- 
thesize' and 'self -motivation', but 
they also insist on 'loyalty' (at 
Saint-Gobain) and 'team spirir' 
(BSN and Orcal). Some 49 percent 
said they atrached importance to 
candidates 1 views on politics and 
trade unions, 33 percent said they 
did not (18 percent did nor 

■^^■^^■■■■«.«.«^«.»«i^ t.i.^1^ «.«■«. «■««■«.« 

' profits accruing from their cultural capital are ar lease partially 
PP r °priated by those who have power over rhis capital, i.e., rhose who 


economic capital needed ro ensure rhe concentration and util- 

^0m° n °' Cu,tural capital It follows from rhis that their posirion in the 

,c >niirj 

a len C ' aSS ' s an am biguous one which leads them to a highly ambiv- 

(^ j ercncc k° tn t° the firm and 10 the 'social order". When making 
to m " S or "Sing in protest, they are actuated as much by their co nee tn 
tw Cf rtam tnc legitimate distance, established by academic verdicts, be- 
bt, nfi rncm selvcs and ordinaiy workers, or by meritocratic indignation at 
trcat ed like them, as by rhe sense of a real solidarity of condition; 

and, conversely, their anxious search for integration into the domj ft 
class, either for themselves or for their children, always include a^ 
greater or lesser extent, depending on rhe current stare of their [^ vto ^ 
an element of ambivalent resentment towards prizes rhey cari r 5*ts) 
completely possess nor completely ignore and refuse. c,t hcr 

All these dispositions characteristic of the 'cadre* category $$ 
arc perhaps most intensely developed among those, who, for 1^^ of Q '* 
cational capital, or of rhe educational capital most valuable ar a "" 
moment or of rhe social capiral needed to invesr it profitably^ a - ^ 
gated to rhe position of technicians, i.e., executants without econ !?* 
polirical or cultural power. Bringing into the lower positions of the i* ' 
inant class the perir bourgeois dispositions which have brought the "* 
rhase positions, they arc opposed in almost all respecrs to the young ex _ 
utives from the grandes ecoles and often from bourgeois families, ^h 
occupy a large proportion of the new positions created in the private ser 
tor. 31 

The dispersion of this fraction, a simple categoty of bureaucratic sttt jj. 
tics, but also a movement of corporate defence which is affirmed in the 
representation if has and gives of itself, expresses the objecrive ambiguity 
of the position of the 'cadres', who are condemned to oscillate between 
collaboration and distance and therefore to be the object of annexation 
strategics which enable them to use their solidarity as a bargaining 
counter; it also stems from the fact that the term cadre is one of rhe titm 
which, as rewards attached to the occupation of a position, are important 
weapons and prizes in the games which arc played in and on the gap be- 
tween the nominal and the real 

Although the opposition between the new positions, with the correspond* 
ing life-style, and the established positions does not exactly coincide with 
the opposition between the private sector and the public sector, it is mainly 
among the privare-sector executives that one finds the life-style characteris- 
tic of the 'new bourgeoisie'." And, although our survey only imf* rrecrly 
captures the distinctive features of the new bour eoisie" it does regisrera 
ser of slight but systematic oppositions between the public-sector execu- 
tives — mote often originating from the working and lower classes, ^d 
closer to the engineers — and rhe private sector executives— youn cr. & a ~ 
erally of higher social origin, often graduates of HEC of Sciences Po and 
closer to the professions. Private-sector executives buy slightly mote often 
from antique dealers; choose Dali and Kandinsky rarher than VI amine*. 
Renoir and Van Gogh, who are preferred by the privare sector executives, 
choose the Art of Fugue and the Concerto for the Left Hand rarher thaJ1 ^ 
UArUshtme, La Traviaia, rhe Twilight of the Cods, Eine Kleme &#&&** 
and Scheherazade; Aznavour, Franc,oise Hardy and Brassens rather tha n ^ 
Bccaud, Piaf and Jacques Bttl, philosophical essays and poetry rather ^ 
travel, Itisrozy and the classics. They describe the ideal friend as 1T " s J\t in- 
stylish rather than conscientious, bon vivant and level headed; the I ^ 
tcrior as studied, imaginative and warm, rather than sober, harmo n, ° 

Jfl short, differing little with respect to strict cultural competence 
jiS^f^ » c of composers) , private- and public-sector executives ate clearly 
[W^j in all 'he areas which depend on ethos. 
off ^ differences would be even more marked did nor each of the two 

rtes contain a proportion of individuals whose characteristics are 
f*Jjg dotfiinJint ^ the opposing category: graduates of thegrandes ecoles, 
r ^° f eois origin, passjng through high positions in the public sector and 
lose to poly wbmam engineers and the professions; private-sector exec- 
^■l-s from fHf wof king 0r middle classes, with low qualifications, who are 
U " close 10 the public*seetor executives and ordinary engineers. 

a t the n ew bourgeoisie is mai nly characterized by its opposition to 

he old business bourgeoisie. Having achieved positions of power at an 

lief ace, mor e often being graduates, more often belonging ro bigger, 

ore modern firms, the private-sector executives are distinguished from 

t* industrial and commercial employes, a traditional bourgeoisie with 

5 pa holidays, its receptions and its 'society' obligations, by a more 

'modernist', *y° un ger' life-style, certainly one that is more consistent 

with the new dominant definition of rhe dynamic manager (although 

rhe same opposition is found among the owner-employers). 

Thus, they much more often read the financial daily Les Echos (pene- 
tration index 126, industrial employers 9L) and economic weeklies (224, 
industrial employers 190); they seem less inclined to invest their capital 
in property; they much more often indulge in the sports that are ar once 
smart, active and often Vybernetic', such as sailing, skiing, warer-skiing 
and tennis, followed by riding and golf; they more often play parlour 
games that are both 'intellectual' and smart, such as bridge and especially 
chess Above all, they identify more fully with the role of the modern 
executive who is oriented towards the outside world (along with the 
public-sector executives and the engineers, rhey have the highest rate 
W foreign travel) an d is open to modern ideas (as shown by their very 
frequent attendance at professional conferences or seminars). A final, 
apparently minor but very significant index of this opposition may be 
seen in the fact that private-sector executives far more often keep 
tttSky in the house whereas the industrial and commercial employers 
*mam most attached to champagne, the drink of tradition par excel- 

^^ ,s combination of 'luxurious' and 'intellectual' properties, which 
Cill mconi Patible because they are ordinarily associated with diametri- 
bo/ ^P 050 ^ positions in the dominant class, opposes the new business 
*ho lC both to the teacheis and to rhe traditional industrialists, 
comro t rable cars, hotel holidays, yachrs and golf evoke erhical dis- 
Po>i° nS now regarded as rather pieux jtu fold hat') But it is also op- 
lu.x u r professions, and their somewhar different combination of 

the fL 1 culture, by a strong integration into economic life, seen in 
t>0 n t p m £ °f economic and financial publications {Las Echos, UExpan- 
ffyrtse) and by an occupational activity which implies a modern- 

Business Tourism 

'Reward seminars* and 'prestige sem- 
inars', as they etc called in the na- 
tive language, are part of the range 
of hidden profits which modern 
firms offer their executives. 'Residen- 
rial seminars* (rhose which last 
longer than one day and take place 
away from company premises) pro 
vide business for one of the most 
flourishing industries. (It is esti- 
mated that 25,000 such 'seminars* 
were organized in 1973) They in- 
volve the hotel chains which special- 
ize in 'business tourism' (such as 
Novotel, Frame!, Sofirel, RLM., 
Meridien, Mercute and Motelleric); 
the agencies (such as Seminorcl) 
which promote a scr of hotels spe- 
cializing in seminars and conferences 
in exchange for 4 percenr of turn- 
over, consultancy firms (such as 
CEGOS ot SEMA) and cheir social 
psychologists, who offer a la carte 
(sec che CEGOS 'catalogue* with its 
294 'formats' ar raTes tanging from 
200 to GOO francs per day) 'creativ- 
ity seminars' together with 'facilira- 


A Seminarist Confesses * r ^or/iu*" , **«, 


tors' to organize them. 'ScrW, 
the invention of an 1NSEAD * 
ate who has turned the mou n 5^ u - 
resort of Les Arcs into a seinin^ 
centre so as to keep it runnin j 
ing rhc six 'dead' months f jJL- 
and autumn. The economic weekl* 
in which this informarion was 
foujid explans that 'spring ^ ^ 

are ideal rimes for executive med 
rion* {UExpamion, December ** 
1973). The winter low season )S ^ 
served for 'updaring-reward wmj 
for successful sales teams', while fnc 
high season receives rhc presrige 
seminars of 'top management* ar ,d 
big clients Gilbert Trigano [p,^ 
dent of Club Mediterranee], who 
can be regarded as an authority on 
these matters, says that 'in twenty 
years* time, the Club will be provi<l- 
ing 50 percent pseudo conferences 
and 50 percent real holidays' Those 
who inquire into the causes of info 
tion would do well to take accounr 
(among other hidden factois) of 
rhc fact that businessmen, wirh 
their 'business tourism', their 'com- 
pany gifts' and their company cars, 
are good business for businessmen. 

y o Ur 

The angelic smiles of the Club host- 
esses, a smooth check-in, punctual 
take-off (did I tell you we were 
going to Tunisia?) — it has to be 
said, the journey was most agree- 
able, and so was our welcome at the 
village. 'Djcrba la Douce' is a real 
little paradise. The groups from 
Lyons 2nd Brussels arrived soon 
after, on special charter flights, like 
us. There was just time to slip into 
something more suited to the 
weather, and then we were intro- 
duced to the programme and the 

deserves its name. Next thing, I *jj 
in Bermuda shorts— how else wouW 
you go water-skiing? , 

Next day we got down to w° rk - 
just in the morning, and that *' a 
the pattern each day. And the fa 
ties are excellent: an attractive, , * 
equipped conference room with 
the audio-visual aids, individual "» 
crophones and so on. The Club 
scores again. ^ 

Everyone responded ro the » 
sphere, and the debates and p* ^ 
tations were lively and P° s ' f,VC j ( p 

evening events and then, of 

si*"** the night club. And it was 
cO^'Acd off with a gala farewell 

'* t r 

&^ LjgP you arc: a great seminar. 

J : n>ductive, too. Everyone 


dr f 

works better in congenial surround- 
ings, where they can really relax. 
forgive me for preaching, but is 
there anything better than the Club? 

L'Expmtton, no 6$, May 197.V 

^ f ce-Star Seminars* 

pi* hotels: 

HA I jes Trois Arcs (very com lor r- 

^ tc ! de )a Cascade (luxury) 
fifr € \ Pierre Blanche (very comfort- 
Hotel de I* Cac hMt€ (top class) 
Hotel du Golf (top class) 

All rooms have en sutie bathroom 
jnd W.C, telephone (automatic 
dulling within the resort), radio 

Seminars Where You 
Can Brearhe 

Nature has laid on everything at Les 
Arcs. The resort overlooks the valley 
of the bete* which is here Just a 

ere. Twelve restaurants at Arc Pierre 
Blanche and on the peak. Two res- 
taurants at Arc Chantel. 

rushing mountain torrent. The vaJ 
ley enjoys long hours of sunlight 
Our bedrooms and seminar rooms 
alike offer a magnificent view of 
Mont Blanc. 

Doatmniaiien Srmtitart. 

B °?frretic WOf d J *""»a/rr, innsJatcd is "seminar", denote* here i business training 

°"Rirn| 1_ " ^ainj its academic connotitions, and, uin'A Seminarist Confesses', the 
° r ) *mng— j religious seminary — can be revived wuh humorous intention ( iransla 

Prices, 1975-1976 

( 1 December 197}— }0 November 1976) 600 'three-star' hotel roo^. 
Prices per day, per participant (francs). 

High season (school holidays, 
24 January— 20 March) 

Number of 


2 d. 1 njght 



3 d. 2 nights 

10 to 25 



26 to 50 



51 to 75 



76 to 100 



LOI to 200 



201 to 300 







4 d. 3 nights 7 d. 6 

n "*ht, 



1 Have Met Happy 

If you're looking for rhe perfect 
venue for a successful conference or 
seminar, the place you want is Mont 
d'Arbois near Mcgeve (Haure Sa 
voie), in rhe heart of rhe Mont 
Blanc Massif. 

There I met seminarists and con- 
fetence-goers who were canned, re 
laxed and happy to be there. They 
were there to work, of course, but 
in a setting thar helped them un- 
wind and relax at the same time. 

On rhe work side, the Mont 
d'Arbois Horel meets rhe particular 
requirements of each firm. It's hilly 
equipped with conference and com- 
mittee rooms for groups from 20 to 
200, audio visual faciliries. simuka- 
neous translation booths. . « . The ar- 
rangemenr is always 'made to 

There is easy access- by air {Mont 
d'Arbois is 90 minutes from Paris 
by Air Alpes), by rail (nighr rrains 
from Paris) and by road (a choice 
of routes). 

On the entertainment side, it's 
Paradise. Depending on the time of 

year, you can ski in the heart of the 
fantastic Mont Hlanc Massif or 
enjoy one of the mosr beautiful g Jf 
courses m France, Orher facilities in- 
clude tennis courts, an indoor swim 
ming pool with a sauna and a gym. 

Fot the less energetic, there are 
delightful walks in outstanding 
countryside and the charming vil- 
lage of Mcgeve with its many amen- 
ities. In rhe hotel itself, gala 
evenings are organized on request, 
wirh decorations, a band and even 
visj ting srars. Ar meal rimes, enjoy 
rhe impeccable cuisine and atrenme 
service offered by this rop-clasS 

And how much does it cose? The 
prices are actually very competitive 
especially in September and Decem- 
ber. Mr. Thommen or Mr. Zicg Jcr 
ar the Mont d'Arbois Horel (f* 1 - 
50/ 21 25 03) will be glad to suRP^ 
derails ro help you compare 

One final point: ir has b^n 
proved that alrirude stimulates r ^ 
mental faculries. Mont d'Arbois ^ 

1»300 merres 
in top form. 

so everyone 



bniffprttt. Jl Mar 1^74 (a<fvetu*MnC n 

ASrnQpolwan life-style, w »th its frequenr foreign business Trips {by 
\& C ' - t bus iness ' uncnes aR d Cocktails, irs conferences and seminars. 
3 if>- '* __^ 

■^TZ f rhe decisive role of the reading of economic daily and weekly 
In tf,c -^ defining the new bourgeoisie, if is important to recall rhar, ac* 
p>Pj rS ro a 1973 IFOP survey, 20 percent of rhe readers of Bntreprise be- 

00 ^ firms employing more than 1,000 people; that 20 percent of them 
W$k j n x fo c chemical, aeronaurical, automobile, engineering or elccrronics 
ft j tries, although the cotrcsponding firms numerically represenr only 2.6 

1 ni of French firms, and that only 6 percenr of them work in construc- 
£t of public works firms, whereas 13.5 percent of French firms are in this 

[C rf£t> f ^ tnar ™ crc ' s a r<: ' ar ' ve 'y n '£ n p ro p°"io n of* subscribers in financial 
2riblishrncnts* services and distribution, in contrast to commercial firms, 
horels, carts and resrauranrs (which represenr a very high proportion of 
French fams); that, within their firms, 4.6 percenr of rhe readers are com- 

n .. heads or directors; rhar 15 percent of rhem are sales executives, 12 per- 
Lpt administratotsand only 10 percenr involved in production. Ir is also 
clear (C.5. v l) rnar rnc rca ^ lS oi Entreptist, of L 'Expansion (who would 
present similar, but no doubt still more accentuated, characteristics) and of 
to Echot differ from the readers of other publications in that they enjoy 
talking about economics and business, they make frequenr business rrips 
within France and abroad, they use credit cards, they read foreign-language 
journals and they have contemporaty furniture — a very equivocal indicator, 
although one docs observe elsewhere a sysremaric link between rhe new 
bourgeoisie and new urban areas, modem buildings and modern furniture. 
Furrher fearures of this new bourgeoisie are indicated by the chatactetistics 
of rhe alumui of INSEAD; drawn toa large extent from the traditional pa* 
imtat (owner employer class), rhey have acquired in rhis Atlanric-oriented 
institution (the reaching is largely given in English by an international 
reaching staff often trained in the USA) the capacities needed to achieve a 
successful reconversion Towards execurive posirions (especially in sales and 
Mmm 1srrar i on ) in multinational companies, many of them US-based. 

tvesc 'dynamic young executives' read t'Expamion (65.5 percenr), 
•jTjy* 1 " ( 5) percent) and Enireprise (33 percenr), followed by U Neuwi 
J ava ^ttr (22.5 percent); they ski (7L5 percent), play renn»s (58 per- 
v^i'-B* &3 ' lm £ b 7 percent) and riding (23.5 percent). Their wives often 

• in the new occupations ( 1 percent of those who work are journal- 
the ** rccnr interpreters. 12 percenr docrors or psychologisrs), rhey share 
( same cosmopoiiran disposirions (84 percent speak ar leasr one foreign 
p^ t $ c > but tcmain mote attached ro the traditional forms of culture (28 
^__^ go ro a museum or exhibition ar least once a month). 56 

struppi Cat ' on srru S&l c which is waged initially within firms, a 

n^^r c ^ or supremacy berween production and publicity, between engi- 
vi^ ? anc * marketing, in which each category of managers seeks to ad 
at r h^ S occu P a tional interests by imposing a scale of values which sets 
co P of che hierarchy rhe functions for which it feels itself best 

equipped, and all the similar struggles which are fought out with; 
dominant fracrion of rhe dominant class, are inseparable from confli *^ 
values which involve the participants* whole world views and arts r ^ 
ing t r because they oppose not only differ enr sectional interests but d i' V 
ent scholastic and occupational careers and, through them, djo- ?I 
social recruitment areas and therefore ultimate differences in hah 
Thus r for example, the financial managers of the largest firms, 58 ^l tUs 
almost all Sciences Po or HEC graduates, who possess a large social '* 
ral {family connections, their respective 'oldboy networks*), f tCn f[" 
long to clubs, arc almost all in Who's Who and very often in the /jl 
mondam (the Who's Who of the French aristocracy), are no doubr 
posed in every aspect of life style to the Vesearch and development' m 
agers, who are generally engineering-school graduates, are more often <*f 
working- or middle-class origin and have pastimes very similar ro ihoj* r 
the teachers (mountaineering, walking etc.). 

This means that changes in posrs (and their occupants) are incvitabj, 
accompanied by a whoie effort il symbolic tesrructuring aimed at win 
ning recognition in representations and therefore by a permanent strug- 
gle between rhose who seek ro impose rhe new system of classification 
and those who defend the old system. Taste is at the heart of these sym- 
bolic struggles, which go on at all times between the fractions of the 
dominant class and which would be less absolute, less total, i{ rhey were 
nor based on the primary belief which binds each agent to his life-style A 
materialist reduction of preferences to their economic and social condi- 
rions of production and ro the social functions of the seemingly most 
disinterested practices must not obscuie the fact that, in matters of cul- 
ture, investments are not only economic but also psychological. Conflicts 
over art or the art of living, in which what is really at stake is the impo- 
sition of the dominant principle of domination within the dominant 
class — ot, to put it another way, the secuting of the best conversion ratc 
for the type of capital with which each group is best provided —would 
not be so dramatic (as they ate, for example, in debates over the schooJ 
curriculum) if they did not involve the ultimate values of the persons 
highly sublimated form of interests. * 

The new bourgeoisie is the initiator of the ethical retooling rc< l u * 
by rhe new economy from which it draws its power and profits, wh 
funcrionfng depends as much on the production of needs and consul 
as on the production of goods. The new logic of the economy fc l ects ^. 
ascetic ethic of production and accumulation, based on abstinence, . 
ety, saving and calculation, in favour of a hedonistic morality o 
sumption, based on credit, spending and enjoyment. This «j# ^ 
demands a social world which judges people by their capacity ^'^jr 
sumption, their 'standard of living', their life-style, as much as 7^^ 
capacity for production. It finds ardent spokesmen in rhe ne^ ^j 
geoisie of the vendors of symbolic goods and services, the 6itea°£ ^ 
executives of firms in tourism and journalism, publishing an d 

feckion and advertising, decoration and property development. 
t^* h their s tyty imperat ve advice and the example of their con- 
f|J r ° u A 'jtiodel' life style, the new taste-makers propose a mora lity which 
f. i'JLitR to an an of consuming, spending and enjoying Through in* 
b°* 5 masquerading as advice or warnings, they maintain, especially 
i^ C -^omCn, the privileged consumer subjects and objects, the fear of 
"^ryjn* up ro the innumerable duties entailed by the liberated' life- 
(** and the awareness of not possessing the dispositions needed to fulfil 
^ a new form of the sense of moral unworthiness. 

r mposcd of members of the dominant fractions who have recon* 

^ t0 adapt to the new mode of profit appropriation, the new bour- 

* ■ ■ j s in the vanguard of the transformation of ethical dispositions 

A world views occurring wirhin the bourgeoisie as a whole, which (as 
■ hie 22 shows) is itself in the vanguard of a general transformation of 
Ife-style which is particularly manifest in the division of labour between 
•he sexes and the method of imposing domination. This is the fraction 
which imports (from the USA) the new mode of domination, based on 
'velvet glove' methods, at school, in church or in industry, and on the 
tebxed 1 lifestyle which srarts by euphemizing all the manifestations of 
social distance (especially sartorial ones) and by studiously rejecting the 
aristocratic stiffness that tends to create distance. After so much historical 
work on the symbolism of power, it would be naive not to sec that fash- 
ions in clothing and cosmetics are a basic element in the mode of domi- 
ng ion And the whole opposition between the vieuxjtu and the nouveau 
jot, between the old-style authoritarian industrialist and the modern 
manager, tuned in to the latest techniques of business administration, 
public relations and group dynamics, can be read in the opposition be- 
tween the pot-bellied, pompous patron and the slim, sun-tanned cadre, 
"ho isas 'casual' in his dress as in his manner, as 'relaxed' at cocktail par- 
kas in his relations with those he calls his 'social parmers'. 

Bourgeois distinction is still defined, both in speech and bearing, by 
fixation ' n tension, case within restraint- a tare and highly improbable 
^ 'nation of ariragonistic properties Everything rakes place as if what 

35 at stake in the struggle between the old bourgeoisie and the new was 

pnmacy gjven to one or the other of the contraries which distinction 
l 3 reconcile. Whereas the juniors of the dominant class and the new 
geoj'ij ' 5 j denounce the 'up-right', 'stuffed-shirr' rigour of the old bour- 
se / rcach 'relaxation' and a laid-back' life-style, the old bour- 
Er ^ conc, emns the 'sloppy* lif e-style of the new bourgeoisie and calls 
tc restraint jn language and morals. 

c °ti|(j k J 0r npositc picture of the bodily hexis of the new bourgeoisie 
^N by k Wn fr0m the P onraits of * :he property development men* pre* 
^Pla magazine Entttprut (no. 894, 27 October 1972) Here are two 

*Y specimens; Tall, slim, tanned WS , age 52, with grey suit and 

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bfCCfS are not there to fulfil a 
T* c ° j nr even, aesthetic function. 

hUt non and to solemnize ir by 
|v,nt .ct to ^hich their patina 


SwimcSS.Bcmg defined as the 

^rume^ofantual, they arc 

f questioned as to their func- 
Ln or convenience. They are paf t 
oftk^aken for granted' necessity 
to which iheif users rnusi adapt 

Cd v hour 8 w fc bi <*k .a reso- 
HjteL* ^^" norrevolu- 
Jem.?' 'P^nwnf; rhe home of 
Hrib^ C ? UW Stfvaa-Schrcibcr, as de- 
}*f4 m y thc fnagazine Maim et 
'i co m r ^ tl>in g >s 5ubordin*ed 
'^'lellicfflty: The Set- 

■iber bed 

room. The silver- 

papercd walls arc lit by a battery of 
three spotlights. . On either side 
of rhe bed, aeronautical -style hatches 
lead ro the bathroom. As an uln 
maic refinement, a bcdiide s 'itch 
operates the baihtoom lights 

Manvrt etjttutm, Afnil iy?o 

hom-rimmed spectacles, law degree, a graduate of the Paris Ecole $ ur . 

market financier, is as much ar ease with his peers as when negoti af j n °^ 

ministers ... He has nor played poker for several years, but in his m *H 
of leisure he liked ro"breathe" on a golf course or play the organ. 1 Tl % 
the ideal or ideal-typical property developer originates from rhc hw k ' 
bourgeoisie, has attended a major Paris lycee followed by higher ccW lntSs 
loves atr or classical music and goes in for at leasr one of the smart sty^' 
often skiing, golf or tennis, but also riding, underwater fishing, sailing S ' 
hunting or flying — as indicated by his 'athletic looks\ his 'sun-tanned f 
and negatively, by his 'slimness'. As for his use of clothing, which, as I ** ' 
have shown in another study, 19 is bound up wirh this relation to the k^j 
and the ethical dispositions it expresses, I need only quote an article , n p 
Figaro {1 December 1975) which, after telling us that Antoine RibouJ 
managing director of BSN, likes relaxed, sparry clorhes and that Gilbert 
Trigano (Club Mediterranee) rarely wears a tie, confirms that dorhinp \\\^ 
language or any other property, enters the quasi-conscious srrategies of m^. 
nipulation: C A young French businessman told us. "I have three styles. 
When I go to Regional Development Council meetings, where I meet 
bankers and civil servants, I have to dress very correcrjy. For normal busi. 
ness, my clothes are fairly 'way-out/, because I wotk in furnishings, which j s 
close to decoration. To visit factories, I dock in in a leather jacker and a 
polo-neck" * (italics mine). 

The life-style of the new erhical avant-garde very directly expresses the 
asset structure which is the basis of its powet and its conditions of exis- 
tence, Executives in major national firms, public orprivare (a somewhat 
arrificia] distinction, at this level), or heads of large, modem, often mul- 
tinational companies, they are not attached to a place like the proprietors 
of small local firms, local nolabki whose prestige is inseparable fr° m a 
world of real interactions and personal rcpresentarion. The new execu- 
tives look to a 'centre', their headquartets, for directives and promotion* 
large parr of rheir prestige and power derives from academic qualifica- 
tions which ate themselves national or international; they are much ic ^ 
dependent on local privilege and presrige, which are increasingly dev a 
ued as the economic and symbolic markets are unified, setting cnem . 
the national or international hietarchy. Convinced rhat they owe tn 
position solely to their qualifications and to the technical and l hurri 
competence ('dynamism', 'competitive spirir') which they are believ 
guarantee, imbued with the economic-political culture taught in the p^" 
litical science institutes or business schools and wirh the modern 15 ' 1 ^ && 
nomic and social world view which is bound up with it and which 
help to produce in their conferences, commissions and scrn ' narS, p r ^ 
'cadres dynamiqucs' have abandoned the champagne of the PfeMti Q ( 
industrialists (and the whole view of the world, and of France, an 

in the wotld, which went with ir) for the whisky of American- 
fr»fl c a nag crs » fr,c Cu ' f of literature* (delegated to their wives) and eco- 
stf'^ c ws which they read in English. Being both the negation and the 
r ' 1 " nf the old-style patrons, of whom they are often the heirs, and from 
^ Ufljr th^y are only separated, in the end, by time, and therefore often by 
*k° which can make it seem like a question of generation in the otdi- 
tfr nse^-^ey arc cnc ones wr) o transcend, the better to conserve. 
0*^ on \y the internal structure of the dominant fractions, but also the 
■ urt of the relations between the dominant and the dominated frac- 
sff t . tend to be profoundly changed when a growing proportion of the 
C Vc fraction derives, if not its power, at least the legitimacy of its 
f w et from educational capital acquired in formally pure and perfect aca- 
Ju mic comp er i r 'on, rather than directly from economic capital. The new 

hure of tnc ncw ma5ters 0f " f he economy, a rationalization of rheir 
o/orld v ' ew wn ^h rends to be ever more widely accepted as 'management 
5C: cnC e* is developed within the discipline of economics, provides them 
with the sense of possessing an authority of intellectual right over the 
conduct of society. Thus the opposition between the 'disinterested' cul- 
ture °f r hc inrellectua] and the 'philistinism* of the bourgeois, preoccu- 
mod with the mundane interests of his practice, gives way, and not only 
among the new bourgeoisie, to the opposition between the gratuitous, 
unreal, unrealistic culture of the inrellectua! and the economic or poly- 
technical culture of 'modern managers', which sees itself as action- 
orienred bur irreducible to the triviality of mere 'practice'. 

If old-style intellectuals continue co preserve an apparent monopoly 
over legitimate cultural practices, or at least over rhe definition of these 
practices, this is perhaps due to the inertia of the institutions of cultural 
production and diffusion (in particular, the educational system) and rhe 
hysteresis of habitus, which are continuously reinforced by the fact that 
literary and arristic culture remains the form par excellence of disin- 
terested culture, and consequently the most legitimate of the marks of 
distinction from other classes; and also, no doubt, to the division of la- 
bour between the sexes, which confines women to the privilege of judg- 
jps taste and the tasks of maintaining cultural capital in its traditional 
otm , reserving the new culture, turned towards action, business and 
power, f 0f mcn ykjg on |y con fi rms [nc tendency of the ruling fractions 

^onceive the opposition between rhe 'man of action* and the 'intellec- 
ts a variant of the opposition between male and female. 

emporaj and Spiritual Powers 


Wrtk etent ^ orrns °f capital, the possession of which defines class mem- 

^1 *P an d the distribution of which determines position in the powet 

j>i c s constituting the field of power and also derermines the strare- 

ava ilable for use in these struggles — 'birth 1 , 'fortune' and 'talent in a 

past age, now economic capital and educational capital— are «• 
ncously ir strumcnts of power and stakes in the struggle for po w %%, 
are unequally powerful in real terms and unequally recognized a ("V 
mate principles of authority or signs of distinction, at different m $"i 
and, of couise, by the different fractions- The definition of the hi '' 
between the fractions, or, which amounts to the same thing, the^lL^ 
tion of the legitimate hierarchizing principles, i.e., the legitimate ^ 
menrs and stakes of struggle, is itself a stake in struggles bctwee %tUi ' 
fractions." n ^ 

Because those who take part in a game agree on the stakes, at ] C j 
ficiently to fight for them, one may choose to emphasize either rh e 
plicities which unite them in hostility or the hostilities which SCD ITl ' 
them in complicity. One only needs to consider, for example, the hi m 
ambivalent relarions between artists and the patrons of art, who at I 
in the nineteenth century, are ofren also patrons of business. The | ae 
respond with a sort of paternalistic patronage to the symbolic p rov< ^ 
tions of the arcists, in the name of a not so-unrealistic image of what the 
producers of cultural goods really are, that is, deviant children of fa 
bourgeoisie or *poor relations' forced into alternative trajectories; the «. 
trons may even find a pretext for their exploitation of me atrisrs in their 
conspicuous concern to protect them from the consequence of their ide- 
alism 1 and their lack of 'practical' sense,' 1 ' For their part, intellectuals an( j 
especially artists may find in the structural homology between the rcli- 
tionship of the dominated classes to the dominant class and the relation- 
ship of the dominated fractions to the dominant fractions the basis of a 
felt and sometimes real solidarity with the dominated classes. At the same 
time they are able to play on the symbolic licence which the 'boutgeois* 
are in a sense obliged to grant rhem, if only because they are obliged to 
lecognize the supieme affirmation of their spiritual point of honour in 
the negation of popular materialism implied in the attistic negation o» 
'bourgeois* materialism. 

Those who occupy rhe temporally dominant position within the domi- 
nant class are in tact placed in a contradictory situation^ which mcli*** 
them to maintain an ambivalent relationship with cultural goods a" 
those who produce chem. Castigated by the intellectuals and arn5 ! S r c 
philistine materialism and anti-intellectual machismo, when they . 
themselves in relation to the dominated classes they have to invoK 
very terms used against them by the intellectuals and artists. ™ n n cC . 
cannot be entirely satisfied wjrh the solution offered by 'their' > n , 
ruals and 'their' artists (i.e.. the intellectuals and artists w bo ' 

within the field of culturai production a temporally — and tcmp° ^ ( 
dominant position, homologous to their own position in the i p tof' 
class); the very relationship to temporal power and to the aSS0Ciaf -_-j rl* 
its which defines the 'bourgeois' intellectual or artist compro^ 1 jpc* 
dismtetestcdness* which, even in the eyes of the dominant * rat:n 
cificatlv defines intellectuals and artisrs. 

ii^ruals an ^ artists arc so situated in social space that rhey have a 
f^l interest in d ism re res redness and in all the values that are uni- 
p Jtf|4 j nd universally recognized as highes.t (rhe more so rhe closer rhey 
*<&* ^ € dominated pole of rhe field of cultural production). The idco- 
it , I s tratee' cs rnc y usc ro discredit the activities of rhe opposing frac- 
\°% iL the Space of the dominant class (of which the lefr-bank critics* 
v° n . a bout right-bank theatre give a fair idea) owe their quasi- 
0* tic perfection to the fact that* given the chiasuc srructure of the 
aUt °ibuN° n of the different sorts of capital, whereby the 6r$t in one otder 

I kely ro ^ tnc ' asr * n anotner » tnc y on 'y ^ avc ro ma ke a virtue of 
*' ssiiy in order to discredit as arbitrary rhe 'virtues' corresponding to 
P hrr necessities. The hope of an apocalyptic reversal of the temporal 

i 4 chies which arises from the lived experience of the scandalous dis- 

■ tv between the hierarchy of 'temporal' grearness and the hierarchy of 

* niritual* greatness impresses itself as a pracrical self evidence on cultural 

loducers, especially those whose position in the field of cultural produc- 
tion is homologous to the position of culrural producers as a whole in 
the ^ld of die dominant class. Because they are opposed to those pro- 
ducers w ho otTer products directly adjusted to the dominant taste and 
who a re therefore temporally most recognized, just as the whole group of 
cultural producers is opposed to the dominanr fractions, those writers 
md artists who arc temporally — and temporarily — -dominated, because 
their producrs must produce their own markets, are rhe predesrined bear- 
ers of the eschatological hopes which, insofar as they support their 
'Inner-worldly asceticism* and their sense of 'mission*, arc the rrue opium 
of rhe inrellecruals. The analogy with religion is not arrificial: in each 
case the most indubitable transcendence with respect to strictly temporal 
interest springs from rhe immanence of struggles of interest. 


Cultural Goodwill 

The members of the different social classes differ not so much in the ex- 
tent to which they acknowledge culture as in the exrent to which rhey 
know it. Declarations of indifference are exceptional, and hostile rejec 
cion even rarer — at least in the legitimacy-imposing situation set up bya 
cultural questionnaire reminiscent of an examination. One of the surest 
indications of the recognition of legitimacy is the tendency of the most 
deprived respondents to disguise their ignorance or indifference and to 
pay homage to the cultural legitimacy which the interviewer possesses tn 
their eyes, by selecting from their culrural baggage the items which seem 
to them closest to the legitimate definition, for example, works of so 
called Hghr music, Viennese waltzes* Ravel's Bolero, or some gtcat name, 
more or less timidly pronounced.' 

Recognition of legitimate works or practices always asserts itself in the 0°- 
at least in the relationship with the interviewer, who, because of the *£ 
symmetry of the survey situation and his social position, is invested 
authority which encourages the imposition of legitimacy, h may take 
form of a simple profession of faith — "I like it'— a declaration of good 
cenrions — 'I wish I knew if — or a confession of indiftrrence^'t'm nol \ it i 
terested in char* — which in fact attributes the lack of interest to the spe^ 
rather rhan the object. Picasso, or even "the Picasso 1 , a generic term co ^ 
ing all forms of modem arr, especially what is actually known of it* '\r tr ,e 
certain style of decorarion, incurs rhe only explicit denunciations—^ 5 ^ 
impossible refusal of rhe dominanr culture could only be confessed I ■£ ^ 
guise of an objection limircd to what is Seen as irs weakest poinr 1 

f legitimacy in the course of the survey is such that, if one is nor 
po^'^one may, as many cultural surveys have done, produce declarations of 
5^i which correspond ro no real practice. Thus, in one survey on rhe- 
pS&ti'' » 74 percent of the respondents wirh only primary schooling en- 
at^ ' <j «. made judgements such as 'Theatre elevarcs the mind\ and speak 
&** r ?stically of the 'positive', 'educational* and 'intellectual' virrues of 
J^SLffc a* opposed ro rhc cinema, a mere pastime, facile, factitious and 
[K f f jgj,. However artificial, these declarations have a kernel of reality, 
^ ^s no accident thar it is the culturally most deprived, the oldest, 
J " furriest ftom Paris, in shorr those leasr likely really to go to the thc- 
1 who mOSt °^ rcn ^knowledge char 'the theatre elevates the mind*. It 
it,r? ld be equally mistaken either ro rake these exTor ted credos at face value 
*°° many w c|l-meaning cultural evangelisrs hav^e done) or ro ignore 
' HrrtiThey g»ve an idea of the power to impose which cultural capita! and 

Itiral institutions can exert, far beyond rhc specifically cultural sphere. 
Otic (t <fc. for example, thar literary institutions are most recognized by 
l hox frrihesr f rom tr,cm » those who are therefore least likely really to con- 
form to the srandards they impose and guarantee (see table 23). 

While the propensiry and capaciry to form opinions on book prizes vary 
with reading and with knowledge of the prizes, a good number of those 
who do not read books (especially not prize-winning books), and who have 
no knowledge of lircrary prizes, nonetheless state an opinion about them, 
and on the whole a favourable one (e.g., for question 3, 54 percent of those 
questioned and 67 percent of those answering). This acknowledgement 
without knowledge is increasingly frequent as one moves down the social 
hierarchy (as is shown by the widening gap between the proportion who 
buy neirher prize books nor any books and the proportion who express no 
opinion on prizes or juries). Similarly, rhc proportion of opinions explicitly 
affirming the legitimacy of the prizes increases as one moves down the hier- 
archy by occupation and education (columns 4b and 3b), variations which 
cannor be airributed to a direct imposition of legitimacy by the question it- 
self (since question 4. which offers a negative view', varies in the same way 
and on |y re CC ivcs fewer answers than qucsrion 5 T no doubr because it more 
clearly appears a$ appealing to competence and presupposing specific knowl- 
tc >gtof the literary world). 

Knowledge and Recognition 


. whole relationship of the pence bourgeoisie co culture can in a sense 

c «uced f rof n the considerable gap berween knowledge and rccogni- 

' lnc source of the cultural goodwill which rakes different forms de- 

sq ! n 8 °n the degree of familiarity with legitimate culture, rhat is, on 

ongi n am j r ^ c assoc i atcc J mode of cultural acquisition The rising 

^Btr ur £ c oi s ' c invests its good intentions in the minor forms of the 

°PDo' riarC cu ' cura l goods and practices — monuments and chateaux (as 

o r ni f0 museums and art collections), journals of popularized science 

ror y' photography, film or jazz culture — -just as ir deploys prodi- 



















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cr fiv and ingenuity in 'living beyond irs means*. In the home: this 
#*?ne by Revising 'nooks' and 'corners* (the 'kitchen-corners', "dining 
i5 "°. -ijcdroom-cornets* etc. recommended by the women's magazines) 
afC ^ded t0 mu ^'P'y rne ^oom5, or the 'space-saving ideas' designed to 
ia tCf> (hem, 'storage areas', 'moveable partitions', 'bed-settees 1 etc., not 
£° rk>n all the forms of 'imitation' and all the things thar can be 
^A to 'look frk c something chey are rtoc, so many ways in which the 
&*. h ur£e°'S tuakes his home and himself look' bigger than they are. 
P V Itur^l goodwill is expressed, inter alia, in a particularly frequent 
cc of the most unconditional testimonies of cultural docility (the 
Ve of well-bfcd' friends, a taste for 'educational' or 'instructive* en- 
jnmc nfS )> often combined with a sense of unworthiness {'paintings 
^ j CC but difficult*) commensurate with the respect that is accorded, 
-r^ I**'* bourgeois is filled with reverence for culture: one thinks of 
niuna Barnes's character, Felix, 3 who, as Joseph Frank points out, shares 
with Lcop°'d Bloom, that other Wandering Jew of modern literature, 4 a 
vain striving for integration into a culture to which he is essentially 

.„«»»« «^»«***» »■»«*****»■>**»*««*» 

For Today's Career- 
Woman, Entertaining 
Means Planning 

Because, for her, entertaining means 
grtttng home jusr in rime to ar- 
range the flowers, check rhe table 
setting or slip inro some new 
clothes before the first ring of the 
doorbell Setting aside all thoughts 
°f her working life, the busy career- 
woman turns back into a smiling, 
attentive hostess. 
T o bring it off__a welcoming 

J£ nn * m ftiI1 of flow «*> *-m« ap- 
^t mt to th <- srylc of the occa- 
' 8ood cheer with nothing lefr 

^ell^ theftrStC, > ieftCf0fhe 
j^ #ass^-che woman who 

inuj t s h V l,fe awa X from hom C 

Posers C Up "* 0r hCr absfncc *>y 
^dtxc S1 "^ thc talents of a domestic- 


Vc alL her home must not 

give the impression of being a place 
she just passes through, but look 
like a comfortable, reined ret rear, as 
lively as her own personality. She 
considers herself the first guest in 
her home And as she hasn't much 
rime to give to it, she wants it al- 
ways to be ready to receive people, 
even when she's out all day long or 
goes off on long journeys. Result: a 
cosy, warm, congenial apartment 
which testifies to her presence and 
her preferences. 

If she has a favourire colour, rhe 
decor makes ir no secret. If she trav- 
els a Jot, cvtry homecoming brings 
some improvement. If she loves 
painting or reading, the walls and 
shelves proclaim her tastes. Through 
her home, a woman whose Job 
often requires her to adapt to other 
people's opinions, rediscovers the 
very feminine pleasure of saying, 
'What I like is . . .' 

How docs she entertain? That, of 
course, depends on the layout of her 

home, whether she has a dining 
room or a fixed or foid-atuay d wing- 
bar. Th afi pi us her domestic pote fi- 
nal, wilt decide whether she'll give 
dinner parties in rhe tradirional sryle 
or offer an elegant, humorous 
'ready-ro scrve T or 'self-service* buf- 

As for rhe cooking, the work is 
often remote-controlled, notebook 
in hand, with everything planned in 
advance. She knows all the time* 
saving advantages of modern tech 
niques; she has a well-rehearsed rep- 
ertoire of dishes rhar can be 
prepared the nighr before; she's ex- 
pert at using the services of a ca- 
terer without depersonalizing her 

That's how today's career-woman, 
a strategist of hospitality, combines 
charm wirh efficiency to give the il- 
lusion of being 100 percent devoted 
to her home! 

An Up-to-the-Minute 

Here, the working woman has 
worked for herself. . . . The creator 
of the decor is none orher than 
Franchise Sec, designer and interior 
decorator. She lives in a three-room 
apartment overlooking the Seine, 
and entertains in a big living-room 
divided into two parts: the 'salon 
salon' and the ' sahn-dimng-room\ A 
simple arrangement but without se- 
verity, and ir shows that peculiarly 
feminine gift of drawing anent ion 
to a detail without insisting. ... A 
lacquer parntion can be drawn 
across to separate the re eption area 
from the dining area. On either 
side, the walls arc upholstered with 
light mustard-yellow fabric; the car- 

pet is olive-green, the curtai 
natural silk and [he ceiling 2?^ 
in the part-time dining-room . *C 
of a white sofa she pulls u7 h **H 
Jacquer table with a mat chr * ^t 
support, 2nd folding white | 0n>B 
chairs by McGuire. When fou^* 
back, the rablc becomes a consol 
perfect dining-room pie^e JS~*; ** 
whire lide-cham. In the ma in \ ? 
room rhe comfort is more errmh^ 
dominared by the big corner Sl^' 
velvet calfelun. In from of ti ^!! n 
a simple green lacquer coffet-tah^ 
with steel trimmings. 

Hostess in Paris 


Susan Train, a journalisr with V\, 
and a great traveller, has made ha 
home on the Left Bank, in a quiet 
three-room apartment in a modern 
block. Her experience of beauty 
gives her decoration a virtuosity in 
the play of colours and materials, in 
successful contrasts of style k'sall 
done with subtlety and a classically 
ekgant taste . . Although Susan 
entertains in a relaxed way, s he has 
set aside a little dining-room, to 
avoid the discomfort of buffets of 
coffee- table picnics. So, even with 
no one to help with the serving, she 
can shut the door on it afrer the 
meal and forget the mess. During 
the meal, she uses a wicker basket 
to stack rhe dirty plates and cutlery 
The first course is served in advance 
and the *est of the meal is ready °° 
a trolley with dish warmers. Sim? '* 
fied but refined menus, for, being 
American and a globe-trotter- shc c 
collects delicious recipes and C5t0tl 
ideas wherever she goes- 

Majtan tt JarJfn, April 19^0 


, i fetish 2R d peric bourgeois, and therefore doubly excluded, dou- 
*J' en * ious c0 ^ c ' nc ' u ^ c ^. he bows, just in case, to everything which 
bty a if ic mighr be culture and uncritically venerates the aristocratic 
\oQ \ s of the past. This pure but empty goodwill which, for lack of 
rf ,dcli nCS or P f ' nc ip' cs needed to apply it, does not know which way 

r ri exP 0sCS r ^ c P cr * r bourgeois to cultural allodoxia, that is, all the 

** -u#n identifications and false recognitions which betray the gap 

,T,,St , ccn acknowledgement and knowledge. Allodoxia, the heterodoxy 

ienced as if ic were orthodoxy rhat is engendered by rhis undifferen- 

f *P\i reverence, in which avidity combines with anxiety, leads the petit 

" eeois to ta ke light opera for 'serious music', popularization for sci- 

an 'imitation' for the genuine article, and to find in this ar once 

C l:*A and over-assured false recognition the source of a satisfaction 

hich stilt owes something to the sense of distinction. 

-p llS middle-brow culture {culture moyenne) owes some of irs charm, in 
the eyes of the middle classes who are its main consumers, ro the refer- 
ences co legirimare culrure it contains and which encourage and justify 
confusion of the two— accessible versions of avant-garde experiments or 
accessible works which pass for avant-garde experiments, film 'adapta- 
tions' of classic drama and literarure, 'popular arrangements 1 of classical 
music ot 'orchestral versions' of popular tunes, vocal interpretations of 
classics in a style evocative of scout choruses or angelic choirs, in short, 
cveiyrhing that goes to make up 'quality' weeklies and 'quality 1 shows, 
which are entirely organized to give the impression of bringing legiti- 
mate culture within the reach of all, by combining two normally exclu- 
sive characteristics, immediate accessibility and the outward signs of 
cultural legitimacy. 

Unlike legitimate, i.e., scholastic, popularization, which overtly pro- 
claims its pedagogic objectives and can therefore unashamedly rtveal the 
means i r uses to | owcr rnc transmission level, ordinary popularization 
cannot, by definition, admit to being what it is, and the imposture ir 
presupposes would necessarily fail if it could not rely on the complicity 

f'K consumers, This complicity is guaranteed in advance since, in cul- 

a$ elsewhere, the consumption of 'imitations' is a kind of uncon- 

us blun which chiefly deceives the bluffer, who has mosr interest in 

,ri 8 the copy for the original, like rhe purchasers of 'seconds', 'rejects', 

'it' ? Cc or second-hand goods, who need to convince themselves that 

tiiddi ° U ^ r ^ cv are situated at very diflfeienc points in the space of the 
*ha r c ass cs > rhe producers and consumers of middle*brow culture 
e x<r l c samc fundamental relationship ro legitimate culture and to its 
^ vc possessors, so rhat their intetests are attuned ro each other as if 
Ptod " csta blished harmony. Faced with the double competition of the 
fliey ^f^ctores, and rhe legitimate reproducers, lectotes, against whom 
ould ^3^ no cnancc if they did not have rhe specific power given 

1 % t***t>w^«^ 

A 'Very Modest* Nurse 

Mmc, B„ whose parents had 2 small 
farm in the deparrmenr of the Ix>e, 
is 48. She has worked ar rhe Saint- 
Louis Hospital in Paris for almost 
twenty years. She 'used to love 
school* and would have liked to be- 
come a re3cher, but had to leave a 
year afrer her CEP because her par 
cnts 'couldn't afford to keep her'. 
Divorced at 28, wirh two children, 
she had ro take a job in a hospital. 
While working, she studied ro be 
come a nurse. Her son, aged 26, is 
married; her daughter, aged 20, a bi- 
ology student, lives with her. Mme. 
B., who loves children', is 'horrified 
by large families' ( 4 a lot of worry'). 

I'm always shocked 
when 1 see a mistake' 

She veiy much regrets 'nor having a 
higher level' (of education): k I make 
do with what I've got bur 1 wish I 
knew more , . . It's very important 
ro be educated.' Educarion Starrs 
wirh knowing rhe rules of grammar 
and spelling. "The girls who work 
with me don't speak property, they 
make words feminine when they're 
masculine and vice versa, which 
proves they've no notion of gram- 
mar. It just shows you how primi- 
tive rhey are/ 'I'm always shocked 
when i see a mistake. Yesterday 
someone had wrirren examem amener 
wirh er . . - I'd be really ashamed if I 
made mistakes as obvious as 
that . . . Personally I would have 
written apportis, but ar a pinch . . . 
I'd say ammer a child, bur app&rter a 

I hate pretentious people' 

She likes 'simple, unpretentious peo- 
ple'; '1 hare pretenrious people, I 

can't stand people who don't L 
how to behave . . . peopJ c w . ^°* 
say "Good morning", an d t jL ' <W, 
stride in *-irhour so much is J Ul i 
your-leave And why? Because- 
haps you're not up to theit l t £\\ 
don't like being trodden on by 
riors.' (She 'respects the people *" 
below her'.) She also detests 'rw, 
who are dirry': 'I rhink that eWv 
you're nor rich, at lcasr y ou cin *** 
poor and clean. I see patients ct w 

ig in with dirty feet, it's disgust- 
ing. Why don'r they go ro the 
public barhs?' 

'It's very modest' 

Her jlar is 'very modest', two rooms 
plus kitchen, she lives in one room, 
her daughter in the other. There is" 
no dining room. It's very modest 
There's no washing machine, be- 
cause I don't like washing machines. 
I do my washing by hand, 1 haven 1 * 
got many clorhes to wash anyway, 
and then I wash things in the 
boiler, I find that gets rhem very 
clean . . . Anyway, you C3n'r get the 
same rempcrarure in a washing ma- 
chine . . I've got my fridge, my 
cooking stove with oven, I paid 
cash for them, I'm nor keen on hix 
purchase (insrallmenr buying). Fp r 
Dig things, yes, a dining-room Sy,t? 
or a bedroom, then 1 might ger 
rhem on credit, bur for a Jittle cook- 
stove, or a washing machine ° r a 9 
fridge, I done think it's necessary 

'I like things 10 be tidy* 

In her room, 'a wardrobe boug hr 
from the Samamaine department^ 
store for 700 francs, a table (*>& 
small local shop, a small bc^V^ 
Tm very comfortable here, "■ * 
■ne fine, ir's very modest.* O* 1 ' 


walls ate a few family photos'. 



k* s 

a nd souvenirs she has been 

'% put a^ay in a box: "They 
c' vcfl i a Ior °^ room ' c ^ uctcr rne 
i^ up ... I likc ehin S 5 to ** nd V 
f^ /course, «f you've got a glass 
-■ D u ca n pur knick-knacks in- 

c^v rh^v're our of rhe **ay and 
-> it, ""7 

& «« dus,y ' 

rlaisic clothes, little suit?, 
^cotton dresses' 

, lfr choice of clothes, rhe same 

t .»fv' the same concern for pro- 
^cy. There isn t a vasr amount ot 
? moncv to throw around . You 
jlisr have to be able to budget prop- 
a \y t that's what counts. 1 She cannot 
see herself 'strolling around in jeans' 
(considering rhar more suirable for 
f, cr daughter), bur wears 'classic 
d thes, little suits, little cotton 
dresses.* 'Righr now> 1 have a navy- 
blue sktrr from Gerard Pas^uier, a 
tittle shop in the suburbs which 
docs some famous names, Cacharel 
and so on. 1 really feel comforrable 
in it, more rhan with those flared 
skirts they make.' She goes ro the 
hairdresser's every week: 'It's a relax- 
ation, certainly. I love having my 
hair done, A scr rakes no time ar 
41. There's a nice calm atmosphere, 
1 fad a quiet magazine, things on 

She does not buy magazines, be- 
cause ' t hcy a re full of advertise- 
ments, they're expensive and there's 
ne >f much in them.' The television 
. tn her daughter's room, she does 

1 often warch, except *«o pass rhe 


or 'to relax', with variery 

shows and especially singers- In fact 
she 'hasn'r really gor rime 1 : Td 
rather have hours of sleep, for exam- 
ple, rhan ear a lot' (mostly she ears 
grilled meat, salads, fruir). l l find 
rhar ir's betrer for my constiturion. 
I need my eight hours' sleep.' She 
has nor been to the cinema for rwo 
or three years: The last time I saw a 
film, I don't remember rhe names, it 
was a story about doctors/ 

She TtstenS to rhe radio, mainly 
France-lnrer, for the music*, she 
likes Frederic Francois; 1 find rhar 
his songs ... the words are very 
meaningful, some of them . . - 
Enrico Macias is quire good, he's 
modern, I find his songs are very 
nostalgic. I like Hugues Aufray, his 
songs are terrific, he's gor an amaz- 
ing philosophy . . What I like in 
songs, is words that mean some- 
thing, mainly I listen to «he words ' 

For her summer holiday she rents 
a small Bat or villa at the seaside 
(Hendaye, Arcachon, Les Sables 
d'Olonne-on rhe Atlantic coast). 
She resrs, goes ro the beach l a little 
bit', plays 'a bit of miniature golf, 
does *a lirrle bit of knitting but not 
a vast amounr when ir*s hor', 
'doesn'r do much.' 

(An interview with another nurse, younger 
and better qualified, is presented Sarei in 
this chapter A comparison of the two will 
show in J very concrete way that the oppo- 
5nions between age- groups which divide a 
number of occupations in fact correspond 
to differences in scholastic generation and 
social trajectory, «id consequently m lire- 


co ntrol over the mass media, the new cultural intermediaries (the 
and ^P lca I of whom are the producers of culrural programmes on TV 
*tii - ° or r ^ e critics of 'quality' newspapers and magazines and all rhe 

c Journalists and journsdisr -writers) have invented a whole series of 

genres half way between legitimate culture and mass produC[j 0n 
ters', 'essays', 'eye witness accounts'). Assigning themselves rhe |~ c *- 
ble, and therefore unassailable, role of divulging legitimate cultu SS '' 
which they resemble the legitimate popularizcrs — without posses*; ^~ lfl 
specific competence of rhe legitimate simplifies, rhey have t0 * ! ^ 
themselves* as Kant purs it, 'the apes of genius' and seek a $ubstit u 
the charismaric auctoritas of the autior and the lofty freedom in w w . r 
asserrs itself, man 'arty' orT-handedness (seen for example in the ' l 
facility of their style) and in a conspicuous refusal of the heavy <jjj U ^ 
cism and grey, impersonal, tedious pedantry which aie the countema 
external sign of institutional competence— and all this must be . ° r 
while living in the unease of the inherently contradictory role of a '** 
senter' devoid of intrinsic value. The partial revolutions in the hierarchi 
which rhe intermediaries 1 low posirion in the field of intellectual produ/ 
cion and rheir ambivalent relation ro rhe intellectual or scientific author 
ittes encourage them to carry out, such as canonization f 
not-yet-legitimate arts or of minor, marginal forms of legitimate art 
combine wirh the effects of the allodoxia resulting from their distance 
from the centre of cultural values to produce, through rhe mixrutc of 
'genres', 'styles* and levels', those objectified images of pet it -bourgeois 
culture, juxtaposing 'easy' or 'old-fashioned* (j e_, devalued) legitimate 
producrs with the most ambitious products of the field of mass produc- 
tion — anrhologies of 'poetic' songs, wide-circularion 'intellectual' week- 
lies bringing together would-be authoritative popularizets and 
self-popularizing authorities, television programmes uniting jazz and 
symphonic exrracrs, music-hall and chamber music, string quarrers and 
gypsy orchestras, violinists and fiddlers, bel canto and cantata, prima 
donnas and songsters, rhe Tas de deux* from Swan Lake and Rossini's 
'Cat Duer'. Nothing could be less subversive than these controlled trans- 
giessions which are inspired by a concern to rehabilitare and ennoble 
when they are not simply rhe expression of a misplaced recognition of 
the hierarchies, as anarchic as it is eager. The petit bourgeois spectators 
know they have no need to be alarmed: they can recognize (he 'guaf»n 
rees of quality' offered by their moderately revolutionary taste makers, 
who surround themselves with all the institutional signs of cultural aU * 
thority — Academician conttibutors to painless history magazines, ^° 
bonne professors debating on TV, Mcnuhins gracing 'quality' var,ct > 
shows. Middle-brow culture is resolutely against vulgarity. 

Uncertain of their classifications, divided berween the tastes they ' , 
dine to and the tastes they aspire to, rhe petit bourgeois are con<ie' nn 
to disparate choices (which the new petire bourgeoisie, wirh its con , . 
to rehabilitate folklore and exotic music, actively putsucs); and t 
seen as much in rheit preferences in music or painting as in their . 
day choices. 7 In radio programmes, rhey combine a taste for lighr *** " Jf 
with an inreresr in cultural programmes, two classes of goods wn ' 

^o ends of the social space, are mutually exclusive: manual workeis 
st exclusively lisren to culturally heterodox programmes, and the 

3 ^nanr-cJass fractions closest to the intellectual pole — senior execu- 
and members of the professions — rank their preferences in accord- 

fl * ^ith the established hierarchy of legitimacy (if one takes account of 

i( en 
j inguish themselves from the other categories by the importance they 

^nequa'ly devaluing cttca of broadcasting). The petit bourgeois also 

e to the minor forms of legitimate culture, like light opera, or to the 
b«i^ tcS ^ or legitimate practices, such as radio plays, science pro- 
S mmes r poetiy readings This is, of course, the categoiy which con- 
* , n s mosr of the keen photographers, jazz and cinema specialists, and its 
rtbets are (relatively) much better informed abour film directors than 
p OS ers. Similarly, in the most legitimate arts, their preferences go 
j r h parricular frequency to 'accessible' {moyen) ot 'declasse* works, Buf- 
fer or Vlaminck, Scheherazade, RhapjoJy m Blue, La Traviata, L'ArlMenne 

or rhe Sabre Dance. 

Ir is not difficult to find in these works the properties which, at a given 
moment, predispose them to the treatment they receive from the new 
culrural inrermediaries and rheir petit-bourgeois audience* when they aie 
not specially produced for this use. But it would be a mistake to locare in 
the works which enter into middle-brow culrure at a given moment the 
properties conferred on them by a particular form of consumption. As is 
shown by the fact rhat rhe same object which is today typically middle- 
brow — 'average' {moyen) — may yesterday have figured in the most 're- 
fined 1 constellations of tastes and may be pur back there at any moment 
by one of those taste-maker's coups which are capable of rehabilitating 
(be most discted it cd object, the notion of an 'average* culture {culture 
ftoymne) is as fictitious as that of an 'average', univetsally acceptable lan- 
guage. What makes middle-brow culture is rhe middle class relation to 
culture — misraken identity, misplaced belief, allodoxia Equally, one 
rnnst avoid treating this objectively and subjectively 'unhappy' relation 
in substantialist fashion, although ir always betrays itself, in the eyes of 
the dominant, by rhe most inconresrable and objective indices of a man- 
ner and mode of acquisition (such as, nowadays, the typically Record- 
op air of certain systems of musical preferences)- What makes the 
F*tit.Do ur g eo j s r <;i a[ j on ro culture and its capacity to make 'middle-brow' 
tever * r touches, just as the legitimate gaze 'saves' whatever it lights 
P°^» is nor its 'nature' but the very position of the petit bourgeois in 
im s P ace » the social nature of the petit bourgeois, which is constantly 
Pressed on the petit bourgeois himself, determining his relation to le- 
mate culrure and his avid but anxious, naive but serious way of 
m -j n S at it- it is, quite simply, the tact thar legitimate culture is not 
i t e 'Or him (and is often made against him), so that he is not made for 
**o w r ^ ar n Cca5CS to ^* what it is as soon as he appropriates it — as 
u happen tomorrow ro the melodies of Faure or Duparc if the devel- 

opmenr of suburban and provincial Conservatoires caused rhtm 
sung, well or badly, in petit-bourgeois living rooms, "* h^ 

Education and the Autodidact 

The relation ro culture characteristic of those fractions of rhe to 
bourgeoisie whose position is based on possession of a small Culr Ur >i '"* 
ical accumulated at least partly through autodidacticism can only kj^ 
derstood in the context of the effects produced by the mete exi Sre Ulv 
an educational system offering (very unequally) the possibility of lean 
ing by institutionalized stages in accordance with standardized levels 
syllabuses. The correspondence between the hierarchy of knowl^ge l^i 
the hierarchy of certificates means, for example, that possession of l 
highest educational qualifications is assumed, by implication, jo guar** 
tee possession of all the knowledge guaranteed by all the lower qualjfj 
tions. Similarly, two individuals doing the same job and endowed w * l 
rhe same useful competences (i.e., those directly necessary for doine the 
job), but holding different qualifications, are likely to be separated by 
difference in status (and also, of course, in pay), the justification for th 
being the idea that only the competence certified by the higher qualifica- 
tions can guarantee possession of the 'basic' knowledge which underlies 
all practical know-how. 

So it ptesents no paradox ro see the autodidacr's relation to culrure, 
and the autodidact himself, as product! of th educational systm, the sole 
agency empowered to transmit the hierarchical body of aptitudes and 
knowledge which constitutes legitimate culture, and to consecrate arrival 
at a given fe el of initiation, by means of examinations and certificates 
Because he has not acquired his culture in rhe legitimate order estab- 
lished by the educational system, the autodidact constantly betrays, by 
his very anxiety about the right classification, the arbitrariness of his clas- 
sifications and therefore of his knowledge — a collection of unstrung 
pearls, accumulated in rhe course of an uncharred exploration, W 
checked by the institutionalized, standardized stages and obstacles, thc 
cutricula and progressions which make scholastic culture a ranked and 
ranking set of interdependent levels and forms of knowledge. The a£> 
sences, lacunae and atbitraiy classifications of the autodidact's culn ! 
only exist in relation to a scholastic culture which has the power to 
duce misrecognition of its arbitrariness and recognition of a necesw 
which includes its lacunae. Thc apparent heterogeneity of his P rc ^ rCI \ n j 
his confusion of genres and ranks, operetta and opera, popularize 10 * 
science, the unpredictability of his ignorance and knowledge. * tt ^ 
other connections than thc sequence of biographical accident 5 . *j . ( 
from the particular fries of a heretical mode of acquisition. For . ^ 
that sense of cultural investment which only needs external signs i j. 
name of the publisher, the director or thc venue to pick out a 'top H ^ 
icy' cultural offering, just as it reads the quality of other prod ucrs * 

guarantees* implied in certain trade-marks or shops, the perit bour- 
^ lC always liable co know roo much or coo little, like the heroes of TV 
$°. games whose misplaced erudition makes them ridiculous in l culti- 
<fil eyes, is condemned endlessly to amass disparate, often devalued in- 
**' ar j n which is to legitimate knowledge as his stamp collection is to 

rt col' Cct * on ' a miniature culture. 
*°o uE above all, the autodidact, a victim by default of the effects of edu- 

oal entitlement, is ignorant of the right to be ignorant that is con- 
2 red W certificates of knowledge, and it would no doubt be futile to 
k clsc wr| cte than in the manner in which it is affirmed tlie difference 
heiweeo the forced eclecticism of this culture, picked up in the course of 
rioiiided reading and accidental encounters, and the elective eclecticism 
f aesthetes who use the mixing of genres and the subversion of hierar- 
chies as an opportunity ro manifest their all-powerful aesrheric disposi 
rion One only has to think of the Camus of The Rebd t that breviary of 
edifying philosophy having no orher unity than the egoistic melancholy 
which befits an intellectual adolescence and infallibly wins a reputation 
|br beauty of soul; or the Malraux of The Voices ofSilmte, which envelops 
2 cultural patchwork with Spenglerian metaphysical bric-a-brac, imper- 
rcrbably associating the most contradictoiy intuitions, hasty borrowings 
ffom Schlosser or Worringer, rhetorically exalted platitudes, purely in- 
canraroty litanies of proper names and insights which are called brillianr 
because rhey are not even raise. 10 In fact — but who will say so, since those 
who could will not, if they even still know it, because so much of them- 
selves is at stake, and those who would have an interest in saying so don't 
know it? — nothing truly separates that other materialized image of petit- 
bourgeois culture, Postman Cheval's Ideal Palace— a ramshackle fairyland 
straight our of the engravings of La Veitth de$ Ckaumieres, ix with its laby- 
rinths and galleries, grottoes and waterfalls, Inize and Vclleda the 
Druidess, rhe Saracen tomb and rhe mediaeval castle, the Virgin Mary's 
grotto and rhe Hindu temple, the Swiss chalet, the White House and the 
A 'g' cr s mosque — from rhe tawdry pathos of Malraux when he marshals 
,n * single senrence the innumerable laughter of the waves', and the 
ors emen Q f t ^ c p aiT hcnon, Rubens's Kermesse and Khmer sculpture, 

g painting and the Dance of Siva, rhe Romanesque tympanum and 
mof«° nC ' S ' mmorra * ci y'i a " m tn e name of communion with the cos- 
arm ^ otnm S> except the loftiness of the references and, above all, the 
,l S anc e, the complacency, the insolence, in a word, rhe self-assurance, 
,v a ^ ramtv of having which is grounded in the certainty of having al- 
ihe ' *• if by an immemorial gift, and which is the exact opposite of 
If th 11VCr ^ ' nnoc<ncc * humility, seriousness which betray illegitimacy. 
h Cart Cre ° c morc stubborn than I, let him set to work*; To a valianr 
l W nothin S is impossible'; 'On rhe field of toil I await my better*: 
Mjjj^ v ° Wa »s of pure love of work for work's sake are of course not by 

* no doubt, one touches on the principle of the opposition 

between all rising classes, the bourgeoisie in an earllier period 
petite bourgeoisie, and the established classes, the aristocracy * r Kp 
geoisie. On the one hand, thrift, acquisition, accumulation, an ^Ur- 
for possession inseparable from permanent anxiety about propertv 
cially about women, the object of a tyrannical jealousy which is rhJ 


of insecurity; on the other, not only the ostentation, big spe n dj ^ 
generosity which are some of the conditions for rhe reproduction f* 
cial capital, but also the self-assurance which is manifested, in pj rc : ^ 
in aristocratic gallantry and elegant liberalism, forbidding the jea] * f ' 
which treats the loved object as a possession 14 — as if the essential •? 
lege conferred on the possessors of inherited wealth were freedom f ' 
the insecurity which haunts self-made men, Harpagon as much «. a 
nolphe/* who are perhaps too aware that 'property is theft* not to f *" 
the theft of their property. r 

The stockpiling avidity which is the root of every great accumulate 
of culture is too visible in the perversion of the jazz-freak or cinema-buff 
who carries to rheexueme, i.e., to absurdity, what is implied in rheiMit* 
mate definition of cultivated contemplation, and retraces consumption 
of the work with consumption of the circumstantial information (crtd- 
its, exact composition of the band, recording dates etc.); or in the acquis- 
iti ve intensity of alt collectors of inexhaustible knowledge on socially 
minuscule subjects. In his symbolic class struggle with the certified 
holders of cultural competence, rhe 'pretentious 1 challenger — nurse 
against doctor, technician against engineer, promoted executive against 
business-school graduate — is likely to see his knowledge and techniques 
devalued as too narrowly subotdinatcd to practical goals, too 'self- 
interested', too marked, in their style, by the haste of their acquisition, in 
favour of more 'fundamental' and also more 'gratuitous* knowledge In i 
whole host of markers, from rhe major state examinations to editorial 
boards, from job interviews to garden parties, the cultural productions of 
the petit-bourgeois habitus are subtly discredited because rhey fecall their 
acquisition in matters in which, more than anywhere else, the important 
thing is to know without ever having learnt, and because the seriousness 
with which they are offered reveals rhe ethical dispositions from wn ' c 
they flow, which are the antithesis of the legitimate relation to culture 

The perir bourgeois do not know how to play the game of cultu^ 315 
game. They take culture too seriously to go in for bluff or impos^tf 
even for the distance and casuainess which show true familiarly, 
seriously to escape permanent fear of ignorance or blunders, or to 
srep tests by responding with the indifference of those who are not 
peting or the seiene detachment of those who feel entitled to con fes 
even flaunt their lacunae. Identifying culture with knowledge, they , 
that the cultivated man is one who possesses an immense fund of - 

edge and refuse to believe him when he professes, in one or " tn0 ^ ^h 
ous jests allowed to a Cardinal, who can take liberties with rnc 

o^pii [0 the parish priest, that, brought down ro irs simplest and 

f° sU blimc expression, ir amounts to a rdatim to culture ('Culture is 

fl remains when you've forgotten evetythiag 1 ). 1 Making culture a 

i- of life and death, truth and falsehood, rhey cannot suspect the ir- 

ft s jble self assurance, the insolent off*handednes$ and even rhe hid- 

(Jish° ncSr y P rc apposed by the merest page of an inspired essay on 

klosopny* art or lirerature. Self-made men, they cannot have the famil- 

P clarion to culrure which authorizes the liberties and audacities of 

*? „ w ho are linked to it by birth, that is, by nature and essence. 

Slope an ^ thrust 

The dispositions manifested in the relation to culture, such as rhe con 
rrtn for conformity which induces an anxious quest for authorities and 
models of conduct and leads to a choice of sure and certified products 
(such as classics and prize winners), or in the relation to language, with 
the tendency to hypcr-correction, a viligance which overshoots the mark 
for fear of falling shorr and pounces on linguistic incorrectness, in one- 
self and orhers (as it docs elsewhere with moral incorrectness), are the 
very same ones w hich are manifested in relation to ethics, with an almost 
insatiable thirst for rules of conduct which subjects rhe whole of life to 
rigorous discipline, or in relation ro politics, with rhe respectful conform 
ism or prudent reformism which are the despair of aesthete revolution- 
aries. The true nature of the cultural accumulation strategies of upwardly 
mobile petit bourgeois, or their educational strategies, is most clearly 
seen in the context of their whole set of strategies, which clearly ex- 
presses the necc sity underlying the characteristic dispositions of the 
petir-bourgeois habitus— asceticism, rigour, legalism, the propensity ro 
accumulation in all its forms- Thus rheir fertility strategics are those of 
people who can only achieve their initial accumulation of economic and 
cultural capital by restricting their consumption, so as ro concentrate all 
roar resources on a small number of descendants, whose role is to con 
t'nue [he group's upward trajectory. 

« well known that fertility is high among low-income groups, falls to 
est point in the middle-income groups, and rises again among high- 
'ticomc groups. If this is so, it is because the relative cost of child-rearing— 
J|£i cn is small for both low-income and high-income groups, since the for* 
BU ca ™ ot s « a future for rheir children rhat is different from their pres 
t Q ' ^ nd fhercfore restrict their investments, while rhe latter have income 
i, e , tc l ^ f commitments— is highest for those with middle incomes, 
ca>' J C . roi^k classes, whose social ambitions lead them to make high edu- 
ky'rh ,nvCsrmcnts relative to their resouices- This relative cost is defined 
r»ty ^ v ra "° between the family's resources and the monetary or non-rnonc- 
Wnicnts ir has to make in order to reproduce, rhtough irs off- 

$M / uass i asm ana u/e-ytyw 

Table 24 Chances of entering the dominant diss, and fertility rates, by c \ 
tion, 1970-71. 


Class fraction 

Chances of access 

to dominant class* 

Farm workers 







Office workers 

Commercial employees 

Small shopkeepers 

Junior executives 


Primary teachcis 

industrial employers 

Big commercial employers 


Senior executives 

Secondary and higher -cd. teachers 


1 8 

2 3 








I 67 


a. From CS. II (1970), Perccn rage probability, for men, of entering dominant das, 
by father's occupation 

b. Average number of children per complete family from G. Calot and J. C De- 
ville, 'NuptialiVe'ct recondite selon le milieu socio -cu Kurd', Economieei Sjathtiqut. 11 
(October 1971), 28. 

c. Calot and Deville give a fenility rate of 1,92 for Craftsmen and shopkeepers taken 
together Bur it ca« be shown chat rhc ferrility of craftsmen is considerably higher 
rhan that of shopkeepers Analysis of the 1968 census (which confirms the distribu- 
tion found here) shows that the craftsmen are much closer to manual workers rltt* 
are the shopkeepers; the average number of children under 1 6 per household is *»" 
for manual workers, 1. 01 for craftsmen, 0.88 for office and shop worker and 0,78 for 

spring, its— dynamically dehned — position in the social structure, chat is, *° 
achieve the future it expects, by giving its children rhe means of fulfilling 
the effective ambitions it has for them. This explains the form of the rela- 
tionship observed between the fertility of the different classes or fnctjons 
and rhe chances of upward mobility objectively available to their members 
(see table 24). The working classes, whose chances of entering the ^°"! r 
nant class within two generations are virtually nil, have very high ^ ct " i(r 
rates, which slightly decline as the chances of inter-generational mobilj j 

crease. As soon as rhe chances of access to rhe dominant class (or, w 



amounts to the same thing, to the instruments which can provide •*> s 
as rhe higher-education syscem) reach a certain Threshold, among *° K 
and office workers, fertility rates fail markedly (rhc fertiliry rate °* "! .^ c t 
categorized as public-sector 'omee workers'* among whom rherc is a "'* 

rtion of manual workers, is 2.04 as against only L83 for private-sector 
F^c workers', wno are almost all non-manual). In the middle classes, 
'o* 1, c hanccs of mobility are incomparably grrater (and much more dis* 
* ,(1 j t han their incomes), fcrtiliry tares remain ar a minimum (oscillating 
f* f \L n t.67 and 1.71); in ihe dominant class, the fertility rate rises 

g ]y again, showing that biological reproduction docs nor fulfil the 
s ° function in the system of reproduction strategies of these categories, 
h only h * vC ro "wwid/B their position. 

It is a paradoxical characteristic of the petit bourgeois that their prac- 
€ j? adjusted to objective chances which they would not have if they 
i j not have the pretension of having them and if they did nor rhereby 
tj 3 'psychological' boost to the force of their economic and cultural 
capital- Having succeeded in escaping from the proletariat, their past, and 
apiring to enter the bourgeoisie, their future, in order to achieve the 
cumulation necessary for rhis rise they must somewhere find the re- 
sources to make up for the absence of capital. This additional force, 
a tfrust inscribed in rhe slope of the past trajectory which is the pre- 
condition for achievement of the future implied in that trajectory, can 
only be exerted negatively, as a limiting and restricting power, so that its 
effects can only be measured in the form of 'negative magnitudes', as 
Kant would have put ir, whether 'savings' — refused expenditure— or 
birth control, if rising petit bourgeois can act as if they had better 
chances rhan they have (or, at least, better than they would be if they did 
not believe them to be better) and so actually improve them, rhis is be- 
cause their dispositions tend to reproduce not the position of which they 
ate the product, but rhe slope of their individual or collective social rra- 
Ifctory, transformed into an inclination whereby this upward trajectory 
wnds to be continued and completed, A sort of nism per sever andi, as Leib- 
ni * put it, in which past trajectory is conserved in the form of a striving 
towards th c future which prolongs it, it delimits 'reasonable* ambitions 
^d therefore the price to be paid to realize this realistic ambition. The 
l5in g petite bourgeoisie endlessly remakes the history of the origins of 
apuaiism, and to do so, like the Puritans, it can only count on its asceti- 
• In social exchanges, where other people can give real guarantees, 
■ y» culture or connections, it can only offer moral guarantees; {reta- 
il P°°r ' n economic, cultural and social capital, it can only 'justify 
6tJ* tt ^ 0ns * and £ ct thc chance to realize them, by paying in sacri- 
tr P nvat ions, renunciations, goodwill, recognition, in short, virtue. 
^d'sh tioris richest in economic capital, i.e., small- and medium 
for( S I peepers, crafrsmen or small landowners, concentrate their ef- 

t '° r ^ rih" lcaSt ' dic * so unri * k' rJ 7 rccenrl y) on saving, whereas the frac- 

«iajf,| y " in cultural capital (junior executives and clerical workers) 

l ^irc c m ^ use of the educational system, in both cases they invest in 

°nomic and educational strategies the ascetic dispositions which 

A Technician Who 
Tries to Get on' 

Jacques C, aged 29, is a draughts- 
man in an engineering consultancy. 
At secondary school he studied in 
the Technical stream and left school 
at 17 afrer obtaining the equivalent 
of the probationaiy industrial train- 
ing diploma (*lt isn't an examina- 
tion'). He started as a junior 
draughtsman, at 450 francs a 
monrh, in rhe firm where his father 
was a senior technician. He was not 
raken back afrer his military service, 
and he joined another firm, still as a 

Another five years to go 
at the CNAM' 

He has changed firms several times: 
i would spend rwo yeats in a firm 
to learn all rhere was to be learnt, 
and fhen I'd move on That's how 
I've worked my way up,* In the last 
three years i he has specialised in 
building design. In 1966 he started 
to follow courses at the CNAM 
(Centte National des Arts et 
Metiers) — 'A colleague gave me the 
idea.* As he had always wanted to 
do interior decoration (his father 
had been against ir when he was 
younger), he decided 'to try and get 
into architecture 1 and 'began to take 
courses in architectural design*: 
'That's how t moved into the build- 
ing trade . , .* His sistet, who is 
studying to be an architectural secrc- 
taiy, cold him about 'lots of archi- 
tects' offices and the armosphcte in 
them. v So he has studied architec- 
ture, the history of architecture, 
construction ('thanks to which I 
got a place in an engineering con- 
sultancy') and has 'another five 
years to go' at the CNAM, 

uuin m 

His wife (whose father is 


man and her mother a departfw' Ct - 
store sales assistant) is 26; for ^ ' 
last five years she has been a sc f 
tary with Renaulr. She gor t ^ £ 
caiaurcat (technical and econom* 
options), followed by a mana^-. C 
ment secretary's diploma (BT$} 
then started work as a 'seeretw 
('Shall we say ir's a long way f rom 
what we were promised. , . . The 
bosses don'r know how to malec u 
of our qualifications and training 
We've studied law. You don't S t ay 
at school until you're 21 without 
learning a thing ot two, and then 
we're raken on as shorthand ryr> 

'Cornf onablc, cosy» homey' 

They live in an apartment in the 
western suburbs of Paris, they do 
iLOt often entertain {'apart from the 
family . . , we haven'r got many 
friends). He likes his home to be 
'comfortable, that's the main thing*. 
'cosy', 'homey' ('1 like a nice warm 
cosy atmosphere'). He would like to 
have 'a bit more room all the 
same', but 'there are limits ro what 
we can afford 1 Their furniture (a 
big divan 'from Roche Bobois. 7.000 
francs in the sales', a sideboard 
bought from an interior decorator 
who reduced the price for them- 
3,000 francs) was bought on hire- 
purchase (installment plan) over 
the course of two years He likes 
'modern things' and would have 
liked 'white fumituie' bur does* 10 * 
like the English style his wife fa- 
vours (she would like to own ** * 
dresser with a collection of P* aI ** 

As regards painting, he 'has n 
preconceptions .it just »^* ,, 
somcrhing rhat pleases me' " c 
'vety fond of Modtglbni. his w 


» 'I haven't seen all his 

tf " bur those I have, 1 liked a 

P» irtlin fhey * ctc rt -p rodu<:tion5 in 

K* ^ oc maybe I've seen some 

i^ in in P»«s ■ ■ ■ 1>vc becn ro a 
tfl"*„ u iiiber of exhibitions at the 
pjoo . p^ijjj. . , I remember, one 
^ rt modem painting, 1 didn'r 
<»# Another painter 1 really 

'^•iywi Gogh, his pictures are 
I** ^ inB you can feel something 

r i up »n them' (His wife also 
gS The She went to 

Picasso exhibition and loved 
£ fee part, the whole of the Blue 

To try EO g* ° n ' 
achieve something' 

The courses he is taking, to 'try to 
gtt n, to achieve something', ab- 
sorb much of the little spare time 
he has He leaves for work at eight 
in the morning and gets back at 
seven in the evening. Two or three 
evemngs a week, and Saturday 
roomings, he studies (as well as his 
CNAM courses, he is taking ptivatc 
math lessons at home). So he 
'doesn't have much rime for read- 
,n S» especially reading for pleasure*; 
*har he docs read 'tends to be tech- 
nical or scientific, and so on, ro 
la ro something. 1 He likes 'books 
*'*h lots of action' and has read 
some Vdventu re stories' ('Cousteau, 

^Wt know if you can call that 
^■Hific*), 'war stones' ('books 
J^t the Second World War, ait 
I tE «s' ). He l uscd to enjoy history 
<S°^' k" Wasn't got many histor- 
ic ^ S 'Lovesrotirs don't inter- 
S itl mc ar all, I couldn't say why; 
S 2 trolled at the CNAM, he 
fcaj ° Sr rhc tastc for reading': 'you 
r ?U*° rh<:r rn *°S s - y° u can't relax, 
Hnven^ Un Something different, you 
m r got rhe rime.' (His wife, 

who likes books that "have some- 
thing ro do wirh medicine' or 'raise 
moral questions', has recenrly been 
reading Boris Vian. She found 
L'eatme des jotm 'very funny' but 
was less keen on L'arrache-coeur; her 
husband didn'r like it ar all*) 

4 What with the night-classes and 
the exams', they 'hardly wenr out at 
all lasr winter'; a bit more, recently, 
Occasionally they go to the cinema 
because 'it's easy, you can go to the 
picrures whenever you feel like it, 
and it isn'r roo expensive, just ren 
francs. We rry ro choose good films, 
all rhe same, we don'r just turn up 
like that* we read up a bit before we 
go; He likes Westerns, adventure 
films, films with an exciting plot' 
but 'docsn'r have any real prefer- 
ence, so long as it's a good film, 
well made, well directed.* He re- 
cently saw 'an Italian film that was 
totally absurd, a nun on a roof try- 
ing to fly into the air, an industri- 
alist selling off everything he owned 
. , , Perhaps it's a psychological 
image, but it only means something 
ro a certain type of person.' Besides, 
*the economics studenrs and marhe- 
maricians, and people like rhat y with 
whom he saw rhe film 'didn't un- 
derstand any more than I did . . . I 
don*t really see who can understand 
films like that." They have seen The 
Sting: 'What we liked about ir was 
the acting, the characters,' his wife 
explains; she also enjoyed The Cud- 
father, 'especially Marlon Brando's 

In some ways he is conservative', 
wiith a taste foe 'classical things'; yet 
he *has an anti-conf otmist streak, 
too*: 'When you're young, you 
don'r give a damn, you're anti con- 
formist . . . you're always a lirrlc bit, 
I wouldn't say rcvolutionaiy, but 
you wouldn't mind seeing a thing 
or two changed,' He reads Lt Can- 

ard Embame because he 'likes che 
revelations about people in govern- 
ment, the scandals and so on, in 
politics and the property market and 
high finance*, Le Nouvti Observateur 
"particularly for foreign news', bur 
he does nor regularly read a daily 

'They'd certainly put 
some work in' 

Until rhis year, they had season 
tickets at the Theatre de la Ville: 
it's not expensive, that's important; 
the Opera, all the theatres in fact, 
arc our of out pnce-range.' (*I 
wanted to go and see Nureyev and I 
found it was more than 90 francs 
for two. We had second thoughts 
and didn't go', his wife adds. Before 
she rook the bac she used to go to 
rhe Theatre National Populaire, and 
saw Hamltt, The Madwoman of 
Cbaillot, The Executioner's Song. . . .) 
They enjoy ballet (especially 'classi- 
cal dance'): 'The Moisscycv Ballet, 
now, we really liked that. They'd 
certainly put some work in,' They 
have also been to ballets at the 
Theatre dc la Musiquc (near the 
CNAM: 'It wasn't classical dance, 
but it was very good.' it was The 
Firebird,' his wife explains, adding 
'You felt they'd worked at it, the 
work really stood out' (she also 
likes 'French provincial folklore , , 
in fact, folk dances from eveiy coun- 
try'). At the theatre, he likes plays 
to be 'well-acred'. He would like to 
go and see the Grand Magic Circus; 
he has seen cxrracis on TV. 

Almost every year they take their 
holidays in Spain ('It's cheap'; his 
father is Spanish and has a seaside 

apartment). On holiday t nc , 
cjuire a lot' and, his wire teny*^ 
him, 'goes ro nightclubs ev^^ 
night.' He has tried watcr-sk" 
(his wife does it a lot): 'Butr^ 
good at it, I haven't got eno u J? ** 
strength in my legs. You nc^L 
keep fit all year to do it. I do * 
arrive on holiday completely '' 
whacked. If 1 had a shorter w 0r i 
week I'd have more leisure tim "* 
and men 1 use the time Iv ' 
get better at my job . . . You havc 
to be crasy to cany on the way i 
do." Right now I really fee] r ^ 
ro live like a millionaire, I'm sick ^i 
the daily routine, even sick of holi- 
days of the sorr we have. I want (0 
be a millionaire, with a vast estate a 
forest, a swimming pool, a big villa, 
sports facilities, tennis.' His wire 
'would like to go on a cruise?: 
'We'd do some fishing, have a laugh 
with friends, lie around in the son, 
dance, read' She parrieulatly enjoyed 
their Club Medirerrance holiday in 
Rumania. They chose the 'motel 
format'; 'It's comfortable but at the 
same time you feel part of things, 
you make friends easily, it's nor like 
a hotel where you can't get to know 
people . . . Everything is within easy 
reach.' While they were rhere> they 
did a bit of tourism, because **»#> 
you're in a foreign counny, you 
have to look around', he adds. H c 
didn't at all like 'the organic' » ttl " 
rude': 'Most evenings, there was * 
show put on by the "Friendly 
Organizers", who ate generally 
students who ate there on holi- 
day. Well, they didn't put any 
effort into it at all, it wasn't e*e* 
improvisation, they just didn t 
give a damn!" 


rhem r ^ c '^ ca ' clientele of the bank or the school: cultural good- 
^' d financial prudence, Seriousness and hard work. These are guaran- 
* thic" tnc P cr ' r bourgeois ^ cr5 f o these institutions while putting 
itf* if entity at r ^ c,r mercy (as opposed ro the owner of tW economic 
^ i ru raJ capital) since they represent his only hope of deriving 
° r c from fundamentally negative assets. Pretension could be written 
P* -nsion' : f he thtusr to continue along the upward inclination has its 
r side in the economizing mentality and in all the small-minded 
I** . -jsociared with the pent-bourgeois virtues. 1 f pretension forces the 
5 0lJr gcois to enter the competition of antagonistic pretensions and 
r , him to live always beyond his means, at the cost of a permanent 
PJJ ]L that is always liable to explode mi o aggrcssivity, it is also what 
him 'he necessary strcngrh co extract from himself, through every 
? f self -exploitation (in particular, asceticism and Malrhusiantsm), 
he economic and cultural means he needs in order to rise. 
] r is in the area of sociability and the corresponding satisfactions that 
[he petit bourgeois makes the greatest, if not the mosr obvious, sacrifices. 
\] c is convinced that he owes his position solely to his own merit, and 
that for his salvation he only has himself to rely on: 'Eveiy man for him- 
self, 'A man's home is his castle.* To concentrate his efforts and reduce 
his costs, he will break the ties, even the family ties, which hinder his in 
dividual ascension. The bonds of solidarity which help to chain the (rela- 
tively) least deprived to rhc most deprived can make poverty an eternal 
vicious circle. 'Taking off' always presupposes a break, and the disowning 
of former companions in misfortune is only one aspect of rhis The soli 
tary renegade has ro reverse his whole rable of values, convert his whole 
attitude. Thus, substituting a small family or a single child for the large 
family (which rhe ncgarive causes, such as inadequate mastety of the 
icchniques of birth control do nor entirely explain) means renouncing 
we popular conception of family relations and the functions of the do 
"WStie unit, abandoning not only the satisfactions of the extended family 
**" a whole traditional mode of sociability, with its exchanges, its fes- 
tivities, i rs conflicts, but also the guarantees which it offers, the one al 
0s t mfalhblc protection, especially for mothers, against the uncertain- 

old age, in a world haunted by domestic instability and social and 
no i* 01111 *" ,llsCCur ' fv F° r tn e perir bourgeois, kinship and friendship can 
nger be an insurance against misfortune and disaster, a network of 
^Hport and protection which will always provide a helping hand, a loan 
,^.' • but they are nor yer 'connexions', i.e., rhe social capital that is 
n, c I *? make rhc most of economic and cultural capital. They are 
rt^ " hindrances, which have ro be removed whatever the cost, because 
holjf [iruc *c, rhe mutual aid, the solidarity and the material and sym- 
forhj i "! tls '*ctions rhey give, in the shott or long term, are among the 
U i n Juries. 

mi| ing his family, often to an only son, on whom all hopes and 

efforts arc concentrated, the petit bourgeois is simply obeying *$,* 
of constraints implied in his ambition. If he cannot increase nls ; h e ty 
he musr limit his expenditute, the number of mouths he has ro fryJ ^ 
in so doing, he additionally conforms to the dominant representor 7** 
legitimate fertility, that is, procreation subordinated to the imperar " ^ 
social reproduction. Birth control is one form (no doubt the mm**^ 
menraiy form) of numerus clausus. The petit bourgeois is a prole - 
who makes himself small to become bourgeois. "* n ^ 

If t lie petit bourgeois is a smalt bourgeois in reality and not just in the 
ciologist*s mind, then it is clear what would be lost by abandoning the 
cept 'petit bourgeois* in the name of an objectivist definition of objettivi/ 
Here as elsewhere, native concepts concentrate the maximum number r 
ciologieally pertinent properries in a particularly evocative form Further- 
more, an objectifying reduction, however brutal, has nothing in common 
with class contempt, which ts flagrant in so much writing on the petite 
bourgeoisie, the traditional whipping boys of acstheticizing prophecy and 
the favourite target for political anathemas (one only has to think of 
Marx's attacks on Proud hon): it relates the properties of the habitus, those 
most often picked on by class ucism, such as 'pretension* or 'narrowness', 
ro the objective conditions of which they are the product, Those who can 
afford less surly virtues and present a more prepossessing face forger that 
the traits they condemn arc the inevitable counterpart of the mechanisms 
providing for individual mobility, i.e ,, The selective extraction of appropriate 
individuals, and they speak as if the 'vices' and 'virtues* of the petit bour- 
geois (which — need one repeat? — ate only defined as such in relation to the 
dominant ethic) were, in this case, to be imputed to the individuals and 
not to the sttuctures, on the grounds thar the structures have left them free 
to 'choose* their alienation. 

Renouncing the prolificiry of the proletariat, the petit bourgeois 
'chooses' restricted, selective reproduction, often limited to a single P rod ' 
act, conceived and shaped for the rigorously selective expectations of the 
importing class. He encloses himself in a tightly knit but narrow *J 
somewhat oppressive nuclear family. It is no accident that the ad)^ J 
petit (small) or one of its synonyms can be applied to everything the f* 
bourgeois says, thinks, docs, has or is, even to his morality , although 
is his strong point: stricr and rigotous, its formalism and scruple 2)9 ' K 
make it somewhat tense, susceptible and rigid With his perry ca f cs f ^ 
petty needs, the petit bourgeois is indeed a bourgeois *writ small - ^ ^ 
his bodily hexis, which expresses his whole objective relation ro 
cial world, is that of a man who has to make himself small *o Y 
through the strait gate which leads to the bourgeoisie: strict ana who k 
discreet and severe, in his dtess, his speech, his gestures and his ^ 
bearing, he always lacks something in statute, breadth, *u 

fartaffts of Petit-Bourgeots Taste 

g iv cn a sufficiently high level of statistical aggregation, one can 

i^ & s t a bourgeois ethos of ease, a confident relation to the world and 

i' irflt if which are thus experienced as necessary, that is, as a materialized 

t^ A n cc of 'is 1 and *oughr\ which supports and authorize all the 

^ J<1 Qf manifest forms of certitude ati, casualness, grace, facility, elc- 

lflfl freedom, in a word, naturalness, with a petit-bourgeois ethos of 

vrion f nrou ^ n pretension, the voluntaristic rigour of the 'called' but 

<t 'chosen \ who base their pretension to embody one day what 

J 1 -L, t o be' on a pefmanent invocation of 'ought*. However, as soon as 

It analysis is refined, it t$ seen that this system of dispositions takes on 

many modalities as there are ways of attaining, staying in or passing 

hrough a middle position in the social structure, and that this position 

]isdf may be steady, rising or declining. 

The survey data collected for the middle classes (n ■* 583 individuals) were 
analysed for correspondences, applying rhe same sequence of operations and 
using rhe same active and illustrative variables as for the dominant class 
(see chapter 5). The first factor has a greater relative weighr than in the 
analysis of the dominant class (7 percent as againsr 3.4 percent for the sec- 
ond factor and 3 percent for the third). This is no doubt because the com- 
position of this factor includes not only the structure of the capital posses- 
sed but also the overall volume of capital, the effect of which is not com- 
pletely neutralized by the difficulty and relative arbitrariness of defining the 
limits of the class, both on the side of the cultural pole, where the cultural 
intermediaries, very close to the secondary teachers, mighr have been ex- 
cluded, and on rhe side of the economic pole, where it is never easy, with 
l 'w available infotmarion, to draw rhe line between 'big' and 'small' s.hop- 
Kttpers or craftsmen. (Because of this, the plane diagram — figures 15 and 
)&-presenrs itself as a systematic skewing of the social space as it appears 
* 'the theoretical schema — figures 5 and 6 — in which volume and structure 
°« capital correspond to two different dimensions, whereas here rhe first fac- 
""responds to the second dimension but also, to someexrenr, to the 

rst dimension, with the second factor corresponding to the third dimen- 
sion.) ~ e 

tha k *' fSr ^ acior brings to light a structure of oppositions very similar to 
fought our by the first factor in the analysis of the dominant class, 
one s .ide we find rhe abiliry ro identify at least twelve composers (2.0 
visjtj™*' knowledge of at least twelve of the wotks of music (2-4 percent), 
rUssi '? f ^ C ^-° Uvr e and the Modern Art Museum, the choice of works of 
bq, 5 ''music typical of the 'discophile' d'lspoition, such as the F our Se 
QaJil f ** rcem ). thc Art of Fugue (1.6 percent) and rhe WtU-T empertd 
and u ^' 6 P crcc nt) T 'intellectual' singers like Jacques Douai (1.S percent) 
'Pace ( pointers who are the equivalenr of Bach or Vivaldi in the 

0,1 Pa factorial tastes, like Breughel (1.8 percent), ambitious judgements 
lrU! ng, such as 'Abstract pamting interests me as much as rhe classical 

Is' ( 2 4 pw**l>«)i 'artistic' friends (2.0 percenr), and a 'studied*, 'imag- 
5^ ' interior On r ^ c otber side, low (0 to 6) knowledge of composers 
t^ jE1 f{ - c nt) and works (2.7 percenc), the choice of works capable of 
0" p C rceived as legitimate through an allodoxia zftect, such as the Biut 
** k (2.8 percent) or UArUmnne (1.5 percenr), singers associated with 
^h apeM' sucn ** Gucrary (1-6 percent), and the most L common' prefer- 
$& fsach as for a "clean and tidy', 'easy ro mauiram' inrenor). {As re- 
cn , rn e relative contributions, we find that the adjectives chosen for the 
&Vi j n terior are more strongly explained by the 6rst factor than by the 
1 u ff two: in particular, 'harmonious 1 , 'studied^ and 'imaginative', associated 
0t fh rhe cultural pole, and 'clean and udy\ 'easy ro maintain' associated 
■ j the economic pole This also applies ro the choice of painrers like 

airier and Kandinsky.) 
projection of rhc illustrative variables shows that, as wirh rhe dominant 
u« ( educarional qualifications are disrribured in hnear fashion along rhe 
first axis ( w hich is nor the case wirh incomes)- In reruns of individuals, the 
fast fa^toi" opposes the craftsmen and small shopkeepers to the members of 
rhe new petite bourgeoisie nclicsr in cultural capiral (culrural inrcrme- 
dianes, medical and social services) and, secondarily, ro the primary reach- 
es, w irh rhe technicians and junior executives occupying inrermediare 


The second facror systematically characterizes rhe mosr rradirional or con- 
servative ethical or aesthetic dispositions: attachment to rhe old, consecrated 
valuesin painting, wirh Raphael (2.6 percenr), Leonardo (2.3 percenr), or 
Warreau (1.6 percent), as in classical music, with La Traviata (2,4 percenr)^ 
or song, with Mariano, and also in life-style, wirh rhe rasre for rradirional 
Ftench cooking (2. J percent), a 'neat 1 (2.3 percent) and 'harmonious* (1,6 
percent) inrcnor. It does so by opposing them ro dispositions which seem 
to have nothing in common except ignorance or refusal of rhe established 
values (with preferences for Haliyday— 4.4 percenr — Aznavour — 3.5 per- 
cenr— Buffer — >2.3 percent — for a 'warm' interior — 1-6 percenr— -and 'amus- 
ing' fnends 2.9 percenr). (Among rhc indicarors more srrongly explained 

«S* rl»c second facror, one finds rhe same opposition; on one sidr rhe Von- 
soertrious' or 'pragmaric' friend, on the other rhe 'determined' friend, de- 
pa rtment.srore furnirure. Franchise Hardy, or rhe judgement, 'Painrings 
don't mtercsr me.') 

when the 'objective' eharacrerisrics are projected as ilfusrrarive variables, 
,tlc y show r h atT as ; n rnc casc f the dominant taste, rhe second factor ex- 
poses an opposition by age (rhc oldesr are ar rhc top of the second axis 
d towards rhe economic pole, rhe youngesr ar rhe bortom of rhis axis and 
wards rhe cultural pole) and, inseparable from this, an opposirion by so- 
1 origin; rhe children of big or small employers, senior execurives or pro- 
wo l arc situated on rhe posirive-valuc side, the children of manual 


crs, clerical workers or junior executives on the negative-value side. In 

tCn i w ords, w jthin each fraction, the second facror conrrasts those who are 
<l0 ' n £to decline and rhose who ate rending ro rise; rhe overall disrribu- 
J rhe different categories corresponds to rhe proportions of the rwo 
i fir> * 0nc ' 5 wirhrn each of them, wirh rhe opposition berwecn rhe culrural 
m £dwies or rhe junior adminisrrarive execurives, who incline towards 

the positive side, and the commercial employees or the secretin s ( w j lQ 
dine towards the negative side. 

Finally, as in the case of the dominant class where it opposed the profo, 
stonals, in whom 'bourgeois taste' is fully developed, to the two fraciJ Q ^ 
which represent the extremes of the dominant cultural space {teachers 
tnrellectuaJs on one hand, industrial and commercial employers on the 
other), the third factor opposes the fractions which most, and most COm 
pletely, possess the modal characteristics of the whole class, the ones ^ , 
best contrast it with the other classes, in short, the most typically 'middl 
range 1 ones, to the fractions with least cultural capital, i.e., the craftsmen 
and shopkeepers, and to those who have most, i.e., the cul rural interme- 
diaries and primary teachers (see figure 17), The indices of average cultural 
competence, such as average knowledge (7 to 11) of musical works (40 
percent) and average knowledge (3 to 6) of composers (2.9 percent), or 
rhe taste for the most typically middle-brow cultural goods, such as Brel 
(29 percent), Buffet (1.7 percent), Van Gogh (1.9 percent), iconardo ( 2 . 2 
percent), Eim Kfeine Ntuhtmusik (19 percent), arc opposed, on rhe one 
hand, to the indices of high knowled e (12 ot more) of wotks (22 per- 
cent) and composers (4.0 percent) and a tasce tor more legitimate works 
like the Art of Fugue (2.2 percent), and on the other hand to the indices f 
low knowled e (0 to 2) of works (3.3 percent) and composers (3.3 per- 
cent) and a taste for the least legitimate wotks and singeis, such as Guetary 
(2.4 percent) or Hallyday (1.9 percent). (The indicators strongly exptamed 
by this third facror are all among those which make high absolute contribu- 
tions and so have already been mentioned.) 

Projection of the illustrative variables brings our, as one might expect, in 
opposition between the holders of medium qualifications (BEPC or bacca 
Jaureat) and those wirh lower (CEP or CAP) or higher qualifications; this 
is combined with an opposition between those onginaring predominantly 
from the middle class and those from the working or upper classes 'Aver- 
age culture' is thus most characteristic of the primary teachers, technicians, 
people in the medical and social services, and junior adminisrrative execu 

The whole set offsets which correspondence analysis brings to light «» 
systematic form cannot be adequately explained simply by observing 
that, although phenomenally very different (since they are applied t0 
generally less legirimate objects), the choices of the members of rhe pe- 
tire bourgeoisie are organized in a structure similar to the one which 
ganizes the tastes of the membcts; of the dominant class, Vlln , 
craftsmen and small shopkeepers, whose position is based on possess" 
of a certain economic capital, being opposed to the primary teachers 
cultural intermediaries in accordance with principles entirely analog 
to those which distinguish the industrial and commercial cnfl P ,; ^ 
from the teachers and artistic producers. The problem brought f o '# j 
by the second factor, that of the Jink between the sers of aesthe nc . 
ethical dispositions roughly definable as 'conservative' or '' nn ° val ' 1Jbr ,y 
and social origin and age, which are themselves relared in a comp' c * 



»7 Variants o{ petit-bourgeois taste. Analysis of correspondences: simpli- 
fied plane diagram of 1st and Vd axes of inertia. 


7*11 musical works 
Etrtt JOetne Nadtmvsik 

7-11 composers 

baaalaureat Brel 

Four Seasons / Van Gogh 
pjrura Uapital + 
economic capical - 

Modern/Art Museum 
Imprcssi crusts 
J. Douai /Breughel 

1 2 +/nusical works 
starred/higher ed. 

3-6 composers 


L'Arienenne cultural capital - 

economic rapital ♦ 

3 -6\ musical works 

Blue Danube 

no qualification, CEP, CAP 

0-2 composers 



0-2 musical wotks 

Art of I Fugue 

Wtll- Tempered I Clavier 

12* composers 

liceiice and above 

This simplified diagram only indicates variables which make an absolurc contribution ofl-5% or 
mote The only- illustrative variable included is educational qualification. 

W posirion in the? horizontal dimension of space* can only be tackled by 
sy^maticaJiy examining the relationship which is established between 
positions (or jobs) situated in social space-time and a ents also situated 
,n this space. 

J: wnat goes on in this cenrral area of social space is generally so little 

J 1 " c rstooJ (his is because, at best, in order ro understand and measure 

w using, f a example, codes which are, by definition, dennite), one has 

freeze the movements in the same direction or in opposite directions 

c transport both the positions and the agents, turning the middle 

,6 on of social space, a site of relarive uncertainty and indetcr mi nancy 

een the two poles of the social classes, into a set of mobile crossing- 

cert ' ° r rat ' lcr » a stt of shifting crossing-points where agents meet for a 

foil- r,m e as they are carried along by similar or opposite, rising or 

r ' l «ddf rFa ^ Ccco " cs - ^ c arc s? iN closer to reality if we characterize the 
positions as mobile crossing-points which move— in a relatively 

indererminare region of a social space-rime which is nothing oth 
rhe strucrure of these ordered but partially disordering rriov Cm ^an 
partly at (cast because the people who meet there for a shorter <> ? n '^ 
time, whose praences and trajectories are partially determined by */*&* 
Terminations attached to these places, help to make them move Dv ^ 
own movements or, more precisely, by rhe transformations they j ' r 
in the reality or the representation of the positions which they q, r 
and which in some cases they carty off" in their movement. This k it Cu PX 

in cases in which the agents are 'coming up* in social space by 
down' their positions with them in their decline (the process f l r 5\J^ 

v a!id 


ing* their positions as in cases in which they are going down, 'd r 
down' their positions with them in their decline (rhe process f , 
It can be seen, incidentally, rhat the mechanical metaphors one is Ui- 
to use in order to refer to a teality which is not easily named are liabk 
obscuie the fact that the agent's representation of his or hcrow n n ° 
tion, which depends not only on the objective future of the position b 
also on the representation other agents have of it, helps to determined 
objective future of that position 17 In facr, an adequate description of 
such a universe would presuppose a questioning, at every moment, gf 3 ]| 
the dispositions, inclinations or propensities towards Substantial^ real, 
ism that are inscribed both in ordinary modes of thought and ordinary 
language and in the ordinary expectations of social science, which e 
led to demand st *Ct classifications, groups with strict frontiers, clearly 
defined as regards their name — a petit bourgeois has to be called pent 
bourgeois — and their number (precise numbe s look so much more 'sci- 
entific': rhus one learns on good authority thar 'there are at rhe very most 
4,311,000 pent bourgeois in France'). 1 * (This is said here to invite the 
reader's indulgence for all the— perhaps provisionally inevitable — relapsed 
into the realist mode of thought which are bound to appear in the rest of 
this text.) 

Thus the middle positions in the social field may be defined synchrom- 
cally as situated in an intermediate region— characterized by its relative 
indeterminacy (the first, i.e., vertical, dimension of social space) — of ° nC 
or rhe orher of rhe sub-fields (rhe second, i.e.. horizontal, dimenS'O' h 
economic or cultural, of rhe field of the social classes; but also diachro 
cally, as having a histoiy {which may be the collective history of «ic 
cessive occupants of that position) relatively independent of that ot 
individuals occupying that position at a given moment, in other *° ' 
past and future rrajectory, a past and a future. This future, fhar 5 * 
collective future which the position has in store for its occupants, rvav 
relatively predetermined, in which case it may be more or less favour^ 
Le., may promise with relative certainty a more or less marked rise or 
or a sragnarion; or it may be almost indeterminate, open. 

,cdia* c 

Amon£ rhe properties common ro all the occupants of these 'rit crrn s(C rfl 
or neutral positions, rhe most characteristic ar no doubt those whi 

I^s structural indeterminacy. Equidistant from the rwo extreme poles 
fro* c c id of rhc social classes, at a neutral point where the force* of at- 
Q*^ n and repulsion are evenly balanced, rhc petit bourgeois are con 
\^ l \, foced *ich ethical, aesthetic or political dilemmas forcing them ro 
ilipt (he moSf ordinary operations of existence to the level of conscious- 
ly'^ j s rrategic choice. In order to survive in the world of their aspira- 
nCi$ they arC condemned to live beyond theit means 1 and to be constantly 
f' 011 • ^ and sensirive, hypersensitive, to the slightest signs of the reception 
** C to rheir selfreprcsenranon. Constantly exposed to snubs and refusals 
P ded to 'pur rri em ' n &*& place*, rhcy are always on rheir guard, ready 
* wrn do olity into aggress-vity. ^^ 

Among 'he relatively predetermined positions, one can thus distin- 

uish declining positions, such as those of craftsmen or small shopkeep- 
:L which have suffered a considerable reducrion in numbers, linked to a 
rapid economic and social decline, and stable or rising posirions, such as 
rhose of office workers, junior administrative executives or commercial 
employees, which have undergone a moderate increase in numbers, 
accompanied by few changes in the associated economic and social ad- 
vantages- 19 On the other side, in the mosr indeterminate zone of an inde- 
terminate region, that is, mainly towards the cultural pole of the middle 
diss, one finds positions that are srill ill-derermmed as regards both the 
present rhey offer and the vety uncertain, and therefore very open, i.e., 
both risky and scattered, future they promise (as opposed to the predict- 
able bur closed future of the strongly predetermined positions)/ Some 
of these new or renovated positions result from the recent changes in the 
economy (in particular, the increasing role of rhe symbolic work of pro 
ducing needs, even in rhe production of goods- — design, packaging, sales 
promotion, public relations, markcring, advertising etc.). Others have 
been in a sense 'invented' and imposed by their occupants, who, in order 
to be able rosell the symbolic products they had to offer, had to produce 
«* need for rhem in potential consumers by a symbolic action ( usually 
referred ro by euphemisms such as 'social work', 'cultural facilitation' 
c| c) rending ro impose norms and needs, particularly in the areas of life- 
Style and material or cultural consumption. 

Everything rakes place as if the synchronic and diachronic properties of 

rations were linked by a sufficiency close statistical relation to the 

ronic and diachronic properries of the individuals, rhat is, to the 

P volume and composition which govern their position at a give n 
ent and to the evolution of rhese two properties which define their 
<j Potential trajectories, for it to be equally possible (as has been 

rtie ^ to characterize the posirions in terms of rhe properties of 

fond 0<:ai P anrs or r ^ cSc properties in terms of rhe positions. This can be 
H)lu Consrant 'y na s been) shown for the synchronic properties: capital 
in e an ^ composition are so clearly linked to posirion rhat one may, 
irij j^ c cases, fail to qu stion the relationship between the occupanrs 
r e Position and rhe mechanisms through which it occurs. But the 

middle classes offer a particularly favourable opportunity to sh ou , 
the same is true of diachronic properties. We thus return to th ^ a t 
ing point of the analysis, namely, the relationship established by o*J tart ' 
tion between the broad classes of positions defined in terms of ^ 
diachronic properties and individual properties which are 0Dv ^ r 
linked to rime, like age, which expresses the relationship to the p« ls ^ 
past of the economic system* at the economic pole, the past of the tt i 
tional system, at the cultural pole) and to the future, or like social ^ 
an (imperfect) indicator of the evolution of capital volume and com 
rion and also of a whole relationship to past and future as well as ?' 
other social classes. c 

This link between the future and social ascent or between the pasr and s 
cial decline is strongly emphasized rn the dommanr world view ( an mdiv Vi 
ual or a position is said to 'have a furure\ meaning the promise of social 
ascension* i.e , embourgeoisemenr). It is based on and constantly reinforced 
by all the social mechanisms of competition (the most exemplary of which 
is, of course, fashion), in which the differences between the classes are re- 
translated into time-lags in a race aiming ar the same objective. It functions 
in the polirkal or even scienciftc unconscious through all rhe normative 
uses of the evolutionary scheme which identifies the 'people' with the su- 
perseded past or which, more subtly, turns the revolutionary world view, a 
reversal of the dominant view which gives rhe future to the 'people*, into 
the form par excellence of archaism. (This scheme of rhought is particularly 
potent in universes which, like the intellectual field, are based on the oppo 
sition between the new and the old.) 

The Declining Petite Bourgeoisie 

The positions whose numerical decline expresses their economic acchn- 
are occupied by individuals whose objective properties, practices an 
opinions can be seen as linked to a past age. Situated at the extreme poi« r 
of the first axis, relatively elderly on the whole and under-endowed wttfl 
educational capital (at most they have the CEP or CAP), the craftsmen 
and small shopkeepers manifest in all rheir preferences regressive disposi- 
tions which are no doubt the source of their repressive inclinario^s, p* 
ricularly visible in their reactions ro every sif;n of departure from rhe 
order, not least, of coutse. rhe behaviour of young people. Thus, ' cact ° 
against at! inclinations towards modernism or comfort, which they 
only see as moral decadence, on every question concerned ^ith the e 
day art of living they make choices which can be called regress lVC ■ 
much as they are very close ro those of the manual workers, wlt ^ 
having been forced on them ro the same extent by necessity (they** ' - 
example, that they prefer a 'clean and tidy', 'easy to maintain', or P 


Baker s Wife Who 
* k Must About 

j^nc D. and her husband run a 

1 rY bus* ncss m Grenoble. She 

borh pa^ms by the time she 

loS «»/,.lve and was s en c to an or* 

. ni ge. She wenr to school unrt 

£ fourteen bur did not take rhe 

She wenr to school unrtl 
:en bur did not take rhe 
/n;p Her husband first worked at 
ichr in a dairy. Then he was en 
loycdas a baker for eighr years. 

»i«hr in a dairy. Then he was em- 

Twelve years ago he scr up his own 
bakery business, rhey have one mar- 
ked daughter, aged 22, who works 
lf i a pharmacy. They own a small 
bakeiy (employing one other per- 
son), which rfiey will soon be Sell- 
ing so as ro acquire anorhcr small 
shop, but chis time a business thai 
is less demanding, less of a bind'. 
They have recenrly bought a house 
in the suburbs of Grenoble; ir has a 
living-room, dining-room, several 
bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom 
and is surrounded by a large, well- 
kept garden. 

'1 do like things to be clean* 

Inside, cvcjy'thing is brightly pol* 
^"td. 1 don't warn to boast, bur I 
j*° like things to be clean, so I like 
Jeepmg m y house nice and tidy, 
^ng the dusting and sweeping, 
j^rhaps roo much, because if I was 

h . Cf<? all r hc time, that's all I'd be 


ln g.' The concern [O be Vcason- 

•o be 'just about righr\ never 
^ ns picuous, is apparent in evcty- 
ho '^ she says. She says of their 

vo ^ t,lar ' n a Wa y * r s wnar wc ' y c 

■,^ kcd for .2 son of reward.' 
i^J "* ce but of course there are 
£yh ni C€f houses. Irr's say it's not 
■* jusc an ordinary little 

house. Nor that I'm boasting. If it 
had been a little bit smaller, I 
would still have raken it. The fact 
is, it's just about right. Nor super- 
luxurious, no, bur nor jusr run-of- 
the-mill either ' 'We were brought 
up to be very economical. . , . Work- 
ing the way we worked, we didn't 
have rime to spend money. . . . We 
don't have time to go out, so we're 
almost forced ro save money. Often 
I say. 'There are folks that have 
money and rhe time to spend it; 
I've gor the money but I haven't 
gor the rime" It's a sad fact bur it's 
true. ' 

'Something intermediate between 
old and very modern' 

Choosing their furniture — even- 
tually bought from the chain-store 
Iivitan — was 'a real headache'. *I 
went round no end of shops . . . so 
as not ro make a mistake. ... I 
wanted something that was right 
for my age because I can't really see 
a 50-year-old with ultra-modern fur- 
niture. ... I was looking for some- 
thing intermediate between old and 
very modem ' When buying the 
house, she preferred to 'take het 
time* rather than 'rush into it\ 
'Some folks get a house straight 
away, but we wouldn't have been 
able to enjoy it, ir wouldn't have 
been any use ro us. We waited 
c|uire a few years and rhat way I got 
something more comfortable,' 

'Not the most ordinary, bur not 
the most beautiful either* 

In the living room — 'it's nor rhe 
most ordinary furniture in rhe 
worlld, but k isn't the most beaut j- 
ful either — I went for something 
classic/ As for the big grey set ree r 
'with rhat shade, you can sit on it', 

'you're nor a slave co it* (for fear of 
marking if) 'and ac rhe same rime 
it's quire comfortable.' She had to 
choose all these things on her own, 
her husband had no time and no in- 
clination to accompany her. 'He 
couldn't have cared less, he just said 
"Get whatever you like." ' She 
looked for something *thar would 
go with the style of the rooms. I 
don't claim to be vety competent 
but you do have to respect a certain 
style in the rooms. 1 

Those things are worth a bit 
now they're cleaned up* 

On the wall there is a painting 
given to her by her brother-in-law 
and one she bought from a 'picture 
attist'. 'I would like to have more 
paintings but 1 can't afford i t/ She 
thinks she might also like to listen 
to tecords but has never bought any 
and cannot imagine herself doing 
so. Her sense of economy, the re- 
fusal to waste anything, has led her 
to 'tescue* knick-knacks for her 
house. 'I've got lots of trinkets and 
odds and ends that I found in 
aunts' and uncles' attics. They were 
rertibly tarnished and rusty but I 
polished them up. All rhose rhings 
are worth a bit now they're cleaned 
up. . . . When ] rescued rhem, no- 
body would have bothered to pick 
them up, they were so dirty/ 

' 1 don't like showing off* 

Her home means a lot to her. 
When she has money to spare, she 
would father *spend ir on furniture 
or somcrhing for the house', buy 
curtains or a carpet that she can 
'keep for a long rime', rather than a 
dress that will be out of fashion 
next year or jcwelleiy thar she will 
hardly ever wear. 'Some people ate 
constantly buying new clothes, I 
don't feel the need. Sometimes you 
end up buying things you never 

even wear You liked the i 0Q r 
them in the shop and then ^ 0f 
how, overnight, you decide J?* 

don't like rhem any mote. Tal- 
shoes; rhey only have to pinch* 
tie bit, you wear rhem once f a 

a lit. 

hour or two and rhen y ou (hint/' 
"No, they hurt too much, i **, 
wear them", and then they s:ay '■ X 
the box I'm sute I'm not the on? 
person that happens to.' She H|* 
'real jewellery', 'gold jewellery', b u 
does not wear what she w ns Vj r 
don't hlce showing off, putting a || 
my jewellery n; people would say 
"Look at her, dnsscd up m a ll he/ 
jewellery!" 1 don't like flaunting 
my wealth, if that's the word 
for it/ 

'Just a trim to tidy myself up* 

She 'never splurges' on clothes: 'I'm 
not one to spend a lot on my ward- 
robe' Anyway, 'fashion is constandy 
changing , whatever you do, you 
can never keep up with it/ Instead, 
she goes more for 'classic' clorhes. 
She is not sure wherher to accept a 
wedding inviration: Tm nor keen 
because it means buying a lor of ex 
pensive new things and then you 
only wear them once 1 She occasion- 
ally goes to the hairdresser's and re- 
gards it as a 'chore*: 'just a tttm to 
tidy myself up/ In the country, 
where she spent her childhood, 'yo u 
didn't sit for hours in front of a 
mirror putring makeup on.' Nor- 
mally, Madame D. does not do 
much real cooking 'just for the P*® 
of us'; but when they have guests, 
she 'enjoys cooking traditional 
things'— quiche Jorraine. F ait " 7\p. 
phtwn, all sorts of toasts, stuftc 


'People who throw rheir 
money away' 

She gets on very well with p^T] 
who have 'the same tastes' * 

( ^ c likes 'dealing wjrh decent 
s^" i e ' Being 'quite economical 

f*?Ltit be' n g. sna '- ** sav * mean* 
*" 1 we really don't like to waste 
( cv '), she thinks she could not 
ffI ° n «; wirh 'people who thtow 
r mon*Y away. She cannot un- 
f atid people who 'haven't two 
j^nies to rub rogerher and ye: as 
C^ as they get any money they 

n6 it - ■ * r * s nof always the best- 
fT people who stint themselves 
Sjt- ofren it's middle-class people 

ho won't deny themselves any- 
thing ^ c y s° and buv ^ anc y cakcs 

of 2 bottle of good wine whenever 
f hcy feel like it* and when rhe 
money runs out they put it on thcit 
iccouni/ She extends the same dis- 
approval to those 'who don't know 
ho* f to manage their budget' and 
who ask for credit towards the end 
d the month — meaning, no doubr, 
although she is not explicit, wotk- 
mS-class people. 

Cheerful programmes you don't 
have to think about' 

She has not been to the cinema 'fot 
at least ten years', and says she 
doesn't have time to read either a 
daily papet ot weekly magazines, 
like Paris Match ot Jours de France, 
* customers sometimes leave 
behind in the shop; *a lot of pages 
*J th not much on them and a lot 
of advcrnscments.* She watches tele- 
vision a little, but 'not too much', 
mai nly on Sundays, but nevet aftet 
*" "» night. She is not 'aTV fa- 
"^ but likes 'cheerful pro- 

fr^nu*"' rhar 'y° u don ' 1 havc to 
J? « about', especially light enter- 

^^fnt so Jong as the producer 
(^ n c 'try t be clever': 'Nowadays 
t'cv 5^ r€ always crying to be 
p Cr ^ lt b theit vatiety pro- 
6 nrullcs i if was much better the 

way it used to be* She refuses all 
formal experimentation and special 
effects, and has not liked Avc/ty's 
recent expetimcntal productions: 'I 
don't like those cut-up things at all, 
where you see a head, then a nose, 
then a teg. h jusr seems plain silly 
to me; 1 must be old* fashioned. . . . 
First you see a singer all drawn out, 
three metres tall, then he's got arms 
two metres long. Do you find that 
funny? Oh, I just don't like it, it's 
stupid, 1 don't see the point of dis- 
rotting things.' But she does like to 
watch a 'traditional' singer, 'a singer 
who just sings, who sings normally, 
who's normal size and nor all dis- 

'My husband doesn't like Hotels' 

Every year, they go on holiday in 
rheir caravan for two or three 
weeks. Two or three times they 
have been to a caravan camp sire on 
the Riviera and last yeat they stayed 
beside a lake in the Grenoble re- 
gion. Until they got the catavan, 
they did not go on holiday; her hus- 
band 'doesn't like hotels at all, ot 
restaurants.' On holiday, her hus- 
band plays bowls and cards and 
'makes a lot of friends.' She doesn't 
like doing nothing, so she relaxes 
and knits ot makes tapestry: 'it's a 
nice hobby, the time goes quicker.' 
They spend a bit of time on the 
beach and drink pastis with friends. 
Apatt from the summer holidays, 
thcit work is so demanding rhat 
they have no time ro go out. Her 
husband, who starts work at nine 
every Sunday evening, catches up on 
his sleep Sunday afternoon. Ar 
mosr, rhey go our 'once a year, on 
Easrcr Monday or Whir Monday. 
Because ir was a public holiday, we 
used ro shur up shop for t w o days, 
Sunday and Monday. 1 



■ »■ TnJhJ 

cal' interior). Similarly, in music and song, they sysremarically 

rks of bourgeois culture (such as L'Arlisienne or theft 
Danuk) and particularly for the mosr old-fashioned and ttadiri 0na j . ** 

the declasse works of bourgeoi 

ers (Guetary, Mariano). In & 

By a logic which is also valid for the other positions, it is in rh* 
category whose diachronic properties of age and trajectory are mn . 
harmony with the diachronic properties of the position, rhat j S) ^ . '5 
most directly in line with the collective histocy, and therefore m sr a ' 5 
posed to express its objective truth and announce its future, that the n *r 
erences characteristic of the fraction as a whole are expressed ^ ltn t 
highest degree of density and intensity. Thus the group (situated a k^ C 
rhe second axis) of small craftsmen and small shopkeepers, m0it 
whose fathers were also small craftsmen or small shopkeeper anc j w - 
for lack of the economic and especially rhe cultural capital they wo vJj 
need in order to attempt a reconversion, are condemned to carry n a r a l| 
costs at the head of particularly threatened small businesses (food shops 
small tra dirional crafts ere) which will not outlive them (rhey are even 
older than the others), is distinguished by systematically retrograde 
choices from the rest of the fracrion, which contains a fair proportion of 
modern craftsmen (elecrricians, mechanics etc.), possessing rhe BEPC or 
even the baccalaureat, who, especially when young and Parisian, are very 
close to the technicians in their ethical and aesthetic, and no doubt also 
their political, choices 2I 

Convinced that they owe their position, albeit diminished, to a 'sim- 
ple 1 , 'serious*, 'honest* life, the declining petit bourgeois express in all 
areas the most austere and traditional values (a 'neat' \wif*ne\ 'classical' 
interior, a 'conscientious', level-headed' friend, tradirional French cook- 
ing, the mosr canonical painters, Raphael, leonardo, Watteau, and rhe 
longest-consecrated singers, Piaf, Mariano, Guetaiy). Their refusals* cx- 
pressing resentment against the new morality, its showy pretension, 315 
laxity in matters of money (use of credit), child-rearing or sex, are notes!, 
stgntficant. Rejecting the most characteristic elements of the life-style fa- 
voured by manual workers {e.g., the quality 'bon vivant 1 ), they syste 
ically exclude all the virtues cultivated by rhe members of the professions 
('artistic 1 , 'amusing', 'stylish', defined') and all the 'modernist' tastes th * 
iarrer so readily exhibit (they never choose either Picasso, who is one o^ 
the whipping-boys of petit-bourgeois resentment against artists, or * . 
exemplary representatives of the new young life-style, Francoi'se .' s 
and Johnny Hallyday). Their aesthetic of the 'well-finished' (M&* 1 
one dimension of an ethos of 'conscientiousness' which leads the" 1 ^ 
predate the values of work, order, rigour, care. It is distincr trot ^ 
taste for the 'sober', frequent among manual workers or mCjn ^ crS u rv 
promoted petite bourgeoisie who are guided by the concern *o p ^j 
noticed (and also* but with a quite different meaning, among flC # 
bourgeoisie); but it is chiefly opposed to rhe 'liberated' taste of r 

- e bourgeoisie and rhc eye-catching 'fantasies' it procures for itself 
P avanr-earde bouriques and unfsex hairdressers, 

ffe Executant Petite Bourgeoisie 

fKr ally situated in terms of capital composition, the members of* the 

c uta nt petite bourgeoisie present in their highest degree all the traits, 

€% na oned ar the outset, which make rhem the most complete real»2a- 

n f the petite bourgeoisie, such as th